eels eat menhaden

Friday afternoon as I was walking home I looked down into the lower Moshassuck and saw an eel grab a menhaden and take it under a rock to eat it.  The tide was dropping and at the riffle between pools the schools of menhaden did not want to travel through, though they could have swam it.  Right where they were milling around the eel struck.  Just prior to that I had seen a small predator, 7 or so inches, probably a bluefish, grab a menhaden by coming up o9n a school from behind and nabbing one.  Quite the predator day on the mighty Mo.

Tropical forests, Brownfields, and the RI economy

Tropical forests, Brownfields, and the RI economy       Greg Gerritt   9/11/14

 

Everyone agrees, The Rhode Island economy has been extremely slow to rebound from the Great Recession and was not all that great before that either. The ruling class has a plan to fix it. It is the same plan they have had for 40 years, give more money to the rich, pretend real estate speculation is economic development, talk about the fad of the week, and try to lure some of the faddists down from Boston. While it has made the rich richer, for the rest of us it has been not so good, we have gotten poorer and the services we rely upon have been underfunded. The updated traditional model does have a few good ideas. Not al the fads are horrible, None are panaceas, But most of us can agree that fix schools, go Green, provide lifelong learning for people so they can change with the changing world, and generally have an efficient system for administering the rules and regulations that protect the public and the environment are a good idea. But most of what comes out of Smith Hill, City Halls, and the Chamber of Commerce, not to mention the dark money foundations funded by billionaires, is exactly what has gotten us into this mess, and doubling down will only make it worse.

 

Every politician talks about the public private partnership of development and every real estate speculator has their hand out for government largesse, but at the same time we are told of the supremacy of the market. It is therefore extremely important to clarify what the role of government in the economic development process ought to be. While the market purists insist that the only thing government should do is get out of the way, the role of government is critical If nothing else, guaranteeing weights and measures and policing markets all require government. We could create money without the government, essentially that has already been turned over to the banks, but ultimately governments are responsible for a valued currency. What about basic infrastructure? How do we decide to fund airports that are losing more passengers every month when buses serve more people every year and lose their funding?

 

 

But there is more to it. First and foremost may be all the research we the taxpayers funded in basic science and new technologies, research that underpins all of the fads of the week such as biotech, software, and energy. Governments either contract out or do on their own the building of weapons, and constructing civilian infrastructure such as roads, water supplies and sewers. And even in the places that claim to be the home of market purists cities and states offer real estate tax breaks, targeted job training, business education, and all manner of relocation subsidies. Can we begin to speak honestly about the role of government in the economy?

 

 

Occasionally a government actually practices democracy, invites the people to participate, and looks out for the good of the people instead of just the rich, but that is rare. But one could well make the case that in a democracy, in a society looking for widespread prosperity, that instead of helping the wealthy, communities and states, as well as the Federal government and global institutions like the World Bank, should target all of their assistance to those in the community with the least since the rich by definition do not need the help of the government. Part of the reason for this last suggestion is that we are more and more aware that rising inequality hurts economies and its flip side, when those with the least are prosperous, the entire community is prosperous.

 

 

Based on the knowledge that prosperity is actually a bottom up enterprise, in RI the entire economic development activity by the government should be directed into the communities with the least, our old water powered riverine towns and old industrial neighborhoods. RI was built around waterpower and our towns grew up around the rivers and shores. And poverty is clustered in the oldest industrial neighborhoods as they are where immigrants have always headed because of the jobs available there that did not require much English or reading. Of course 100 years ago the industries that made RI a 19th century economic powerhouse started to head for cheap labor neighborhoods with authoritarian governments. Now we mostly have abandoned mills and run down housing.

 

 

A key feature of our riverine neighborhoods in the 21st century is abandoned lands, brownfields is the term, some just filled with debris, some seriously toxic. I believe that how RI uses resources to improve prosperity in our old riverine and industrial areas, our Environmental Justice neighborhoods, is much more important for creating community prosperity than any of the shenanigans like tax breaks for corporations that the 1% buys from the legislature and zoning boards. If we do justice to our EJ communities, prosperity will come back to Rhode Island in ways we have not seen in 50 years. But it may not be based on the traditional growth model as that leads to both inequality and ecological collapse.
Economic development in low income neighborhoods has always been difficult. But there are successful models out there if we look. While the World Bank is a global institution, and has numerous detractors, it does have a long history of economic development efforts in low income community, and it uses many of the same tools government in Rhode Island uses to spur development.

 

I want to draw your attention to a particular study Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experience, http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2012/02/13/000356161_20120213002609/Rendered/PDF/667510WP00PUBL05805B0Forest0AP02011.pdf . This is a study of World Bank economic development in tropical forests and what works or does not work there.

You might ask how what goes on in tropical forests relates to the problems of economic development in post industrial cities. The first part of the argument is that tropical rainforest communities are often the monetarily poorest communities in a country, even though the access to forest resources by the poor provides them better nutrition and food security than others in the country with a similar monetary income. . Often they are the most disempowered, disenfranchised, and marginalized people in a country. And often they are considered to be of a different ethnicity than the urbanites who run the government. Clearly that matches the profile of EJ communities.

”…….forests often have a combination of capturable wealth but poor, isolated, and powerless residents. Powerful interest groups can seize this wealth, depriving poor people of access to forest resources, and sometimes contributing to corruption and poor governance at the national level.

 

The reuse of brownfields in our current model has much in common with this situation. Brownfields are often the biggest chunk of land available for any economic activity (the most capturable resource) in EJ communities and their redevelopment by outsiders often leads to displacement for EJ communities . Often they are developed in a way that reduces government tax revenues due to sweetheart deals (very similar to the way warlords get forest removal concessions)Given all of the things that prevent equitable development in Rhode Island I offer here the quick and dirty summary of what the World Bank found to work best, improve the living standards of the community, increase the amount of tax revenue the government was able to collect from this economic activity, and maintain the health of the forest. You are more than welcome to read the original cited above.

1. Make sure the project has an ecological sustainability component based on real science and ecosystem health,

2. Include efforts to directly address poverty, especially addressing the needs of the poorest people and most disenfranchised in the community,

3. Put specific safeguards in place to make sure the capturable benefits stay in the community rather than end up in the hands of those who already have power and resources, This includes secure land tenure for forest dwelling communities.

4. Develop democratic processes and practices for directing investment, and

5. Specifically encourage and train communities to stand up for themselves, while setting up a structural framework of real democracy in the larger community.

 

I am not going to spend much verbiage here on the ecological component of economic development other than to use my favorite quote “You can not end poverty without healing ecosystems, you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty.” In an age of climate change this becomes even more important. If you need more on this sources are available. Likewise, making sure resources do not leak out of the neighborhood and are specifically targeted to the poor and women is the only way to insure development actually does some good in the neighborhood and simple common sense.

 

 

We do need to talk about land tenure. It is only fair and right that people who have lived in a forest for generations, before such a thing as deeds came to the community, before national governments claiming ultimate ownership of land came into existence, should be secure in their tenure. It is their land. Yet the rich urbanites have always sought to displace them and steal the forest. But clearly right is on the side of the forest people. It is a bit different for the inhabitants of places like Olneyville. No one can say that the poor own the land. It has been bought and sold ever since it was stolen from the native people of RI, by both document and sword. After all,the Great Swamp Massacre is very similar to what Indonesia is doing to its forest people now.

 

The original developers of Olneyville and similar villages are long gone, and who is benefiting now from the reuse of brownfields is determined by who has lots of money. Not who lives in the neighborhood or what would do the community the most good. But allowing this kind of development based on gentrification and tax breaks for the rich has not lifted the people of Olneyville, nor has it done much for the overall level of prosperity in Providence or Rhode Island.. Mostly what it has done is displaced the poor and immigrants yet again. Whereas if the benefits and the investment stayed in the community directed towards the subsistence and economy of the poorest of the community, women, children, the displaced, then it would lift all boats instead of 1% of the boats as what is being offered to us now does.

 
The World Bank has figured out that forest communities need economic democracy, Communities do not choose to destroy their forest or their own livelihoods. They do not vote to exile themselves to shanty towns. It takes warlords and governments selling the land out from under the inhabitants to do that. They do not willingly allow the forest to be captured despite the violence the rich bring to the game Keeping the value generated in the community is anathema to the speculator class who assume they should be allowed to do anything they want with land and resources. But in Rhode Island time and again we find when the speculator class is not reined in, disaster strikes (Hello 38 Studios) The flip side of this is that when the community is very involved in the development process, not only with a voice, but a vote, Rhode Island ends up avoiding disasters (Goodbye Quonset Megaport) and we stop the sweetheart deals that undermine good governance. And sometimes when the community has its say we get good stuff like the new Providence zoning code.

 

The World Bank concluded that keeping the benefits and the land in the hands of the poor provides the biggest win, win, win, including ecological healing, community prosperity, and over the long term the overall health of the national economy, Rhode Island needs a new plan based on ecological healing and economic democracy, one based on making sure the benefits of redevelopment in our cities benefits the residents of the communities, not outsiders. More tax breaks to wealthy developers and corporations will never give us what we want. Undoing environmental regulations will undo economic progress and make dealing with climate change infinitely harder, as well as make flooding worse. Time for a new plan based on ecological healing and economic justice.

The cold spot

Simple physics.  Cold air flows into low spots.  it is heavier, denser, it sinks. This evening I walked into a little cold pocket, the kind that develop as evening falls and the wind is calm.  Standing on the edge of the basin, maybe eight feet above the wetland, it was still pretty warm.  Walking  into the basin about half way down there was a sudden shift to seriously cooler.  At the base the ground was cold, but when I reached my hand up as high as i could, it was warm.  Such a perfect illustration, and a wonder and surprise each and every time you walk through one on a summer’s evening. Surprising even 40 years after I first started exploring them on the road north from Stillwater.    And a summer joy to this day.

RI Economic Growth about at the national average

Release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis

http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/qgsp_newsrelease.htm

For all the blather we hear about how RI is such a laggard economy, growth in RI matched the national average of 1.8% in 4th quarter 2013 and exceeded that in a number of states, including a number of states that supposedly have a good business climate, and exceeding that of Massachusetts.

Another nail in the coffin of the usefulness of the business climate.

What the BEA left out though is how much of that growth ended up in the hands of the 1% versus how much of it ended up in the hands of the 99%.  I am guessing that well over 90% ended up in the hands of the 1%, which essentially means there was no real growth for most of us, in RI or anywhere else.

 

 

The economic news August 2014

The economic news was all over the map this week. The number of jobs created was high for the fourth month in a row, but unemployment ticked up. I guess they have not yet run through the reserve army of the unemployed. Despite the number of jobs created wages were up only $.01, one penny per hour, Inflation is low, running only 2%, which is still faster than wages are rising, so people are feeling more squeezed. The adjusted economic growth rate was 4% after the shrinkage of the winter. Most of the growth was in the hands of the 1%, obvious when you think about the 1 cent an hour raise we got on average. Then the stock market went down 2 days in a row as the “good” economic news told the brokers that interest rates will rise until inflation does. They are wondering if the Federal Reserve can do its tweaking just right, which it never does.

The back story is that poverty is up, the rent is still too damn expensive for the wages we get, the climate is getting worse, the cracks in the empire are getting bigger, resource utilization continues to outpace the capacity of the earth to provide by a greater amount each year, and biodiversity, forests, fisheries, and soil are all crashing with the great extinction of the 20th Century ready to grow exponentially in the 21st. We are told that doing anything about the pollution and deforestation that is leading to climate collapse is bad for the 1% and therefore we have to invest ever more in fossil fuels despite solar and wind creating more capacity than fossil fuels each year and creating many more jobs per kilowatt hour.

The people who develop economic policy continue to read only 1/2 of the signs, and therefore continue to miss the boat. Rather than reversing ecological collapse by healing ecosystems and actually tackling inequality in the economy and all of the viscous cycles growing inequality sets up in the economy and our communities, we are told that cutting taxes for the rich comes before kids going to school with breakfast in the bellies and that teachers who can not teach hungry kids to pass culturally irrelevant standardized tests ought to be fired. We also see that despite the hosanna’s tossed at STEM and STEAM legislatures around the country are refusing to allow kids and government agencies to study climate change or evolution.

The power of the rich to destroy this country and the planet is quite large, but the resistance is growing daily. Just ask the pipeline companies. And then ask the government officials about the reports that New England could meet all of its energy needs without them through conservation and solar. Then ask them why they support the pipelines. They will say jobs. Then remind them that clean energy will create more jobs per installed unit of capacity that gas and see what they say to that. At that point they will tell us that exporting gas around the world will reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions. You then know they have lost their minds and that the new economic plan is going to have to be very different from the 1% oriented crap they have been trying to sell us for 40 years.

Fowler’s toad development 2014

Fowlers Toad Development 2014   Greg Gerritt

 

I do not know if I have learned more about Fowler’s Toad tadpoles or making videos since I started filming mating and tadpole season in Providence’s North Burial Ground. I do know that I know much more now than I did 18 months ago when the RI Rivers Council provided enough funding to purchase a used camera and pay a very small stipend that mostly went for other expenses for the project.

 

I break down the knowledge into 3 components. The more I pay attention to what the tadpoles are doing, both in the pond, and in reviewing what I have filmed the better I am in adapting my schedule to film them based on conditions at the pond and the developmental stages of the tadpoles. I am almost starting to think about doing some rigorous science to test hypotheses such as Fowler’s Toad tadpoles are colonial but have no recognition of other tadpoles as any different from other life forms in the pond.

 

The second component is how to use the camera and create the conditions for capturing high quality pictures that demonstrate those parts of the life cycle I wish to show. I now know much more about how light levels effect the camera and the quality of the pictures. Means I mostly film on sunny days, and calm is the best wind conditions for filming into the pond. But it also means that I am getting better at tracking swimming tadpoles, figuring out how what i see on the view screen transfers to the computer screen and Youtube and slowly understanding how to get the appropriate scenery shots for intros.

 

Finally I am learning the art of putting things together and thank Abe Vargas for a recent lesson that gave the work a big boost, tripling my editing capacity.

 

 

 

The video this essay accompanies is the first of a number of videos that will be made from the complete archive of Fowler’s Toad tadpole footage shot this year. I have hours of footage, most of which will never make it to the web, but a vast library for studying toads and for making a series of short videos for Youtube. This one focuses on physical development. When I first applied for funding for the project that was the goal. To document the physical development of tadpoles in the pond. I almost wanted to make a time lapse video, but the first year I had only wild shots and a few fuzzy captive shots and it would not work.

 

This year I pondered what kind of stage I needed to shoot on to keep the tadpoles happy and prevent them from constantly swimming out of view. Turned out a daily dose pill box worked very well. Still not good enough for a time lapse video like I saw on Walt Disney Sunday nights as a kid, but good enough for this year. I also wanted folks to have time for a second look at the little critters and pick out the changing anatomical features. I am also going to try it out with much shorter clips and see how that looks.

 

But documenting the physical changes is not enough for someone who was more interested in animal behavior than anatomy. Everyone knows I am no taxonomist, and some of my misidentifications have played out publicly as I crowd source identifications. Locomotion and social behavior will also be the subject of videos in the course of the fall, as well as other aspects of the micro ecosystem where the drama plays out. I also have a few ideas for a little tadpole humor that seem so appropriate for Youtube.

 

The issues of maintaining ecosystem health and biodiversity in our communities is intimately tied up with the long term prosperity of our communities. I am still working on how best to use these videos about a drainage swale in an urban cemetery in the community, so I am crowd sourcing again. If you have general or specific ideas of who should see this video please let me know and arrange a showing.

Greg Gerritt Watershed Steward Friends of the Moshassuck   Youtube Moshassuckcritters Blog ProsperityForRI.com FOTM website   TheMoshassuck.org

 

Advice for candidates July 2014

My neighborhood hosted a candidates forum last night at the same time that we have a one man crime wave robbing houses in the neighborhood. The discussion started trending to what we might do to right the ship about crime, and I offered tax the rich and close the school to prison pipeline. Several folks liked it, so I offered what the candidates should have talked about last night. greg

From: Greg Gerritt <gerritt@mindspring.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:20:50 -0400
To:  Summit Neighborhood <Summit@sna.providence.ri.us>
Subject: Re:

And none of the candidates were actually willing to talk about it last night. I have personally met with 4 of the 7 candidates we saw last night and spoken to those 4 about how the economy is not going to work in RI under the neoliberal model. I reminded them we have to directly address inequality, globalization/localization, climate change, ecological healing and food security if we are to create an economy that creates livelihoods in our communities in the 21st Century. All we were offered is more real estate speculation and meds and eds despite that real estate specualtion fosters inequality and is an easy way to crash the economy. And meds and eds are some of the leading causes of bankruptcies and debt and among the biggest stifflers of innovation.

As for regulation, the anti regulatory fervor is mostly around building in wetlands (very dumb when you are getting ever more damaging flooding over time) and allowing companies like GM that knows it has cars that are likely to have catastrophic failures and kill people to get off with a slap on the wrist because they keep so many palms greased.

City economies seem to unfortunately be dependent upon speculation. Therefore it is hard to move towards being more self sufficient with affordable farmland and housing, but that is where our future prosperity lies. Economic growth that actually reaches our neighborhoods has not happened for 40 years and is never coming back (121% of all the growth in income in 2011 went to 1% of the population, yes the rest of us got poorer desite economic growth being trumpeted). The thrashing around for growth (tax breaks which no self respecting capitalist would even ask for unless he were a simple rent seeker) that all of the candidates trumpeted last night is a recipe for disaster. Climatic and economic. Having met with 4 of them previously, and setting up a meeting with a 5th, I am not holding my breath that any candidates for office in RI this year understands that the military industrial complex is not a boon for RI, but a money pit that costs us both blood and treasure. So it might not be fair to believe that they would get how much inequality in an econmy grinds it to a halt in many of the same ways that ecological destruction does. But I will keep trying to educate them. greg

High Summer

High Summer is an old term.  I always take it to mean late July, early August when it is hot and the sun seems close to its zenith come midday.  The days have barely begun to shorten, gardens are starting to producer summer crops like tomatoes,  the eggs are hatched, the tadpoles turned to toads, the fledglings are finding their wings.

 

In the Seekonk River the bait fish have arrived in large numbers and the predators have followed.  There are always fish in the Seekonk, it is a tidal brackish river with a fringing marsh and some forest along its shores. The northernmost extension of Narragansett Bay, its northern terminus the falls of the Blackstone in downtown Pawtucket, its mouth where it joins the Providence River between Fox and Bullocks points. But while there are always fish,  finding them is usually quite a feat.  The only reliable sightings are of the smallest bait fish on warm still days right along the shore.  But come high summer the feeding frenzies become visible.

 

Sitting by the shore there were 10 to 15 reasonably large splashes every minute for more than a few minutes, interspersed with explosions of baitfish as they leap out of the water to escape the jaws of death.   I am not sure what the predator was today, probably bluefish, 6 or 8 inches long mostly from the splashes i saw.  Almost does not matter.  What matters is that the Seekonk is still alive enough to have feeding frenzies in high summer, and that is a very good thing.

 

Giving further testimony to the bounty of the day as I walked upstream along the western shore towards where i sat and watched the fish feast I saw 3 or 4 Great Blue Herons winging south.  Once I sat down to enjoy the fish and got situated I turned my scope to the eastern shore along the salt marsh just north of the Pawtucket/East Providence line below the mills.  On the eastern shore I saw one egret and an additional 8 Great Blue Herons, the most herons I have seen in one place it quite a while.

 

AHH Summer.

 

 

Report from a drainage swale

Report from a drainage swale. July 2014

Greg Gerritt Watershed Steward Friends of the Moshassuck

 

I am spending more and more time by a little drainage swale in the North Burial Ground. So much that my wife gave me a chocolate toad Valentine treat this year. And it will be in a video. Just below the maintenance building and sitting within a stones throw of I-95 this particular swale usually has water, but has been known to go dry at any season of the year if we go three or 4 weeks without rain. When I began spending time at the drainage swale I was focused on the life in the pond. I will return to that shortly, but this year an additional interest has been it’s functioning as a rainwater runoff catchment basin.
 

It turns out that our community is now ready, 17 years after we started talking about it, for a new way to manage rainwater. Doing it in ways that clean and recycle the water within the ecosystem is becoming the norm. Of special concern is what we do when the rainwater comes in the torrents that climate change is already bringing to us. The word is getting out about rainwater gardens, filtering systems to clean and infiltrate rainwater and never let it into the sewage system, such as the new installations at J. T. Owens Park and Providence College. What is so interesting about the NBG swale is that instead of filtering and draining it holds the water, and therefore has turned into some very interesting wildlife habitat. As Rhode Island looks to ever more Green Infrastructure I am going to push for at least some rainwater management efforts that increase wildlife habitat, especially for amphibians, among the most endangered taxa on Earth.

 

I visit the Burial Ground and the drainage swale in all seasons, and it is almost always an interesting place. But from May to July it is at its best. From the time the Toads and Tree Frogs start calling in the spring, May 10th in 2014, the first evening over 60 degrees, the place really perks up. The vegetation explodes with cattails shooting up and the pickerelweed starts covering more and more of the pond. Pickerelweed seems to retreat in the winter and then grow from runners spreading to cover the whole pond by late June. Then come their purple flowers that attract all kinds of insects and the aerial show of dragonflies and bees comes to town.

 

It was the Fowler’s Toad tadpoles that first caught my eye 5 years ago, I was walking along the shore looking for life and there they were. They have become a lodestone that draws me back for hours at a time in the late spring. Fowler’s Toads, Bufo fowleri http://www.marshall.edu/herp/old/fowlers.htm is a grey mottled toad 2 or 3 inches long native to eastern North America, pretty similar to the American toad. I have only seen the adult toads 3 or 4 times, including once this spring sitting on the bottom of the pond, but I am quite familiar with very young toads and the tadpoles that precede them.

 

About 7 days after the first night of mating 1/8-inch long tadpoles appear. And with the same time lag new pulses of tadpoles followed each night of successful mating until there were at least 6 different age classes in the pond this spring, and even after the first newly transformed toads hopped away up the hill in late June there continued to be young tadpoles swimming about into mid July and new pulses of tiny toads.  Fowler’s Toad tadpoles are little black things that swim hither and yon in the pond, moving almost randomly, stopping frequently to eat. They land on vegetation and start scraping algae and bacteria off. I found out that the tail of a tadpole, in addition to being used for swimming, is mostly intestine for digesting the large quantities of low energy food that they feed on.

 

I tend to think of the tadpoles as colonial but not social. Often they clump together in large schools, grazing and resting, but they seem almost oblivious to each other, as the only interactions among them are when they accidentally bump into each other. In fact other than swimming and eating the most characteristic movement of a Fowler’s Toad tadpole is shaking vigorously, which appears to be their all purpose response to any irritation, whether it be human, insect, microscopic irritant, or another tadpole.

 

Over the course of 4 or 5 weeks the tadpoles grow to about 1 inch long, develop legs, shrink to ½ the size of the largest tadpoles as all the stored nutrients are transformed into legs, and hop away from the pond to feed on insects (hence no longer needing a massive intestine), and return the next spring for some very wild nighttime choruses. As this is a video project I have some video of the lights from cars and Benny’s on Branch Avenue as well as the moon, as the sights to accompany the walls of sound that that the toads and tree frogs make on warm spring nights.

 

Three years ago it became obvious to me that this was a great site for a video project, as you can stand on the edge of the pond and easily get very interesting and informative views and footage of tadpoles in their element in the early part of the season. I then sought out youth programs to see if there were any kids that could be attracted to the project. When no programs were able to get involved (a project that starts in the spring and continues into summer vacation is problematic and the Burial Ground is not really near any schools or child centers for convenient walking) I decided to do the videos myself and found support for equipment from the RI Rivers Council, whose support is greatly appreciated.

 

I have now being doing videos of the drainage swale and other life in the North Burial Ground for 18 months, beginning in January 2013. I have winter pictures including a frozen pond and snow, pictures of a chocolate Valentine’s toad in the snow proclaiming it is all about Toad Love, pictures of dry cracked mud in the summer, footage of vegetation, insects, Gray Tree Frogs, and fall leaves, but mostly video of Fowler’s Toad tadpoles. At the other pond in the Burial Ground I focus on birds turtles, and bullfrogs. I focus on the Toads primarily because they are easy to see in the pond and capture for close-ups, partly because the transformation from tadpole to toad fascinates me, and to be able to watch, record, and share it in detail is a treat.

 

Most of the in pond shots of tadpoles (and other pond creatures) are magnified, sometimes to 100 times, depending upon the brightness of the sun that day and the other conditions. And for many of the things I am capturing with the camera the best technique is to focus the camera on something interesting and then walk away and let the animals do their thing. In addition to capturing moments that I do not have the patience to observe in real time, the magnification allows everyone to see things that are so small that you cannot see them with the naked eye or even in the camera’s view screen. I see things when watching the dailies that I had no idea were there when I was filming.

 

This has given me insight into both what else lives in the pond (just wait until you see the dancing midge larva) and the behavior of the tadpoles. Without the camera I would never have been able to observe in detail how tadpoles eat, and I know that I never would have come to the conclusion that they are colonial but totally socially oblivious. Recently I have gotten into the habit of shooting some high magnification video of mudflats just to keep track of the tiny ones, though as the vegetation grows, the places one could do that are rapidly disappearing, and as of late June it is almost impossible to see into the pond, especially when the water is relatively low. At high water the swale extends to cover some of the mowed grass that normally surrounds it, and the visibility of the tadpoles in those sections is very good.

 

Last year was the first year of the video project, and for me the first time I had ever used a video camera. When I started I had no idea how to connect the camera to the computer and use the program to edit the movies. I am still learning how to edit and just recently I learned to do sound editing, music and voice-overs, something I am just beginning to put into Moshassuckcritters videos.

 

My goal all along has been to film all of the stages of development from mating to tadpoles to toads to returning to breed. Some stages are harder to capture than others, especially once they leave the pond, but I am developing a much larger library due to a focus on captive shots throughout the tadpole development cycle this year and a couple of days in mid June where the light and scene were excellent for capturing leg development in free swimming tadpoles and nearly every size tadpole imaginable were present in the pond and showed up in my net. To record leg development I net tadpoles, transfer into small pond water filled containers that are the right size to zoom in on so the tadpole is not constantly going out of the picture. My goal is 5 seconds of tadpole calmness for each videoed tadpole so leg size can be recorded. I expect as I go over 8 weeks of near daily video clips I shall be able to make a pretty good progression video for the development of Fowler’s toads in this particular place. Last year’s progression video was okay.  It was even entertaining considering I had almost no control over the audio except to use what was on the film or mute it and all the captions are paper signs I shot video of and edited in and only late in the season did I start capturing tadpoles for close-ups. We should know in a month or two whether I can put together a better quality and easier watching video that provide useful information for those who want to know more about tadpoles in the city and hold eyeballs. I have several stories to convey, feeding behavior, swimming, and developmental changes over the course of the spring, and will do several of the projects in varying length videos including some very short ones.

 

Another of my goals with this project has been to use it to promote knowledge of biodiversity in the city with the hope of attracting some of the next generation of environmental activists from urban neighborhoods to ground themselves in biology and the natural world so they are more prepared for the struggle. I have not really been successful in this endeavor beyond sharing my videos on YouTube. Hopefully as more and more work goes into urban biodiversity, and the quality of the videos improves, more folks will take advantage of the resource I am providing.

 

Video from the project is primarily available at https://www.youtube.com/user/Moshassuckcritters?view_as=public with links at the Friends so the Moshassuck website   http://themoshassuck.org. and at the ProsperityForRI.com blog http://prosperityforri.com   where most of the various writing I do is posted and Moshassuckcritters videos appear.

 

Enough about the project, you can watch the videos. If anyone wants to join the project, happy to discuss it further. So here is what I now know about Fowler’s Toads and their development through the course of the spring.

 

Fowler Toad adults head to the water for breeding beginning in May. It appears that breeding season starts when temperatures after dark are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (16 degrees Celsius). The toads start calling after sunset, but do not reach full chorus until it is dark. This is what they sound like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmzG9crGmWA

 

They mate on many different evenings, probably as often as conditions are right, but the population of adults at this particular pond is not very large. I could not make an exact count, maybe next year that is another thing to add to the list of things to record, but I figure there were at most about 10 or 20 Toads scattered about the shore. Even so, the chorus is hypnotic. The evenings of frolic produce thousands of tadpoles, with the numbers varying quite a bit from year to year. This year the numbers seem down a bit from the last two years, though the length of the breeding season may have produced more tadpoles than I realize. All I know is that I have video of thousands of tadpoles in the water at one time as I panned the pond in late May, and that I can only video a small portion of the pond.

 

Fowler’s toads have some flexibility. This year mating commenced on May 10 and continued well into June. Last year the pond was dry until May 25, at which point mating commenced, again with mating on a series of evenings. I do not know where the toads deposit their eggs.

 

Gray Tree Frogs share the drainage swale with the Toads. They commence mating season within days of the Toads, and after May 15 Tree Frog mating calls predominate my recordings. Tree frog tadpoles appear much later than Fowler’s toad tadpoles, and are much harder to observe. There are probably a variety of reasons for this, but the current hypothesis is that they stay deeper in the water than the Fowler’s Toads and only come near enough to shore to be seen or caught when the swale is at high water. Last year’s conditions seemed better for observing the Tree frogs and a 2013 video of them is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlhdpVtL1WE

 

 

Toad tadpoles appear within 7 days of mating, This year I recorded them on May 17 and the first night of mating was May 10. I think that as the water warms up the eggs turn to tadpoles a bit faster, and I would not be surprised if late season tadpoles develop faster than early season tadpoles due to the warmer water keeping the metabolic fires running hotter and the greater availability of food.

 

The rear legs develop first and take a fair bit of time to grow to full size. Given all the different sizes I have recorded, and the length of the breeding season, I am guessing that legs begin to appear when they are two to three weeks old, but I have not done a detailed enough analysis of the progression I have recorded to make the case for sure. I may try to come up with a better methodology for this analysis next year even as I do more detailed analysis of this year’s film to see what I can learn.

 

Front legs start to appear after rear leg development is essentially complete. As the rear legs grow they are used in locomotion on the floor of the pond, but swimming continues to be dominated by tail-powered locomotion. I have not been able to garner a very good series of front leg growth pictures. I think a detailed look at all of my 4 legged tadpole pictures will give me a better sense of this, but my impression is that once the front legs start to appear they very quickly develop and grow out. At the 4 legged with tail stage the legs come to complement the tail in locomotion, especially on the pond bottom.

 

With 4 legs complete the tail shrinks rapidly and the toad becomes an air breather. They continue to be able to swim, remember the toad found on the bottom of the pond, and the large one I keep hearing jump but never catch a glimpse of, but now adopt the typical anuran hopping locomotion, which allows them to spend much more time on dry land chasing insects. They appear to hang around the pond for a day or so, getting their land legs. Then waves and waves of less than ½ inch toads start hopping up the hill and away from the pond.

 

As noted I have only seen adult toads away from the pond 3 or 4 times over the years, so I have no direct knowledge of their behavior, but Wikipedia says they burrow into the ground for the winter, and the Burial Ground has that easy digging sandy soil that makes for good toad habitat and easier digging for burials in the times people dug them with shovels.

 

Biologists in Rhode Island have informed me that Fowler’s Toads are rarely encountered in here. Gray Tree Frogs are more common. I was also told that neither Fowler’s Toads nor Gray Tree Frogs have been recorded in Providence for 100 years until my video record. This could be because neither are found elsewhere in the city (possible) or because the few folks who know where are not spreading that information. In any case I do not know of any other similar habitat in Providence.

 

I hope to continue this essay when I know more, but until then, thanks for reading and check out Moshassuckcritters on YouTube.

Thoughts on a drainage swale for the stormwater coalition

As some of you know I have a particular interest in a drainage swale in the North Burial Ground in Providence. It drains one small sector of the Burial Ground, essentially collecting road runoff from one part of one hill. It happens to hold water most of the time, going dry only occassionally. It ws dry last spring, filling on May 25 after a big rain and has had water in it pretty much ever since. Went dry the summer before for a few weeks as well. The last few weeks it has been shrinking, and my special concern is the Fowler’s Toad tadpoles that were in the swale. A population I have been studying and filming the past 2 years. My wife woudl tell you that this time of yer it seems I spend more time with the tadpoles than I do with her. Anyways, with the pond drying up slowly and the shoreline moving further and further away from where I can set up my camera without disturbing the muddy bottom, it was getting harder to conduct my video project and I was worried that the pond would go dry before the toads were launched. So I was praying fror rain.

With the rain Wednesday and Thursday I was hoping the pond would fill back up, a hard train is all it takes. So yesterday about 1 PM I went out to the swale. There is one inlet off the road, a sort of channeled drop off the road, feeding into a cat tail swamp (dry yesterday) and then making its way into what most would call a pond. At 1 PM despite two days of showers, it was clear that the water had not reached the pond. There were a few tiny pools in the access that had not filled yet. As I was watching and pondering it started to rain harder and slowly the flow off the road increased. It never rained really hard, but for the half hour I was able to devote to it it rained fairly steady, and the stream off the road kept getting wider. Soon the little pools along the access sluice were filled and overflowing into the marsh. I walked around the pond (takes literally 3 minutes) and noticed the uneven parts of the mudflats were turning into puddles, but it felt like the abundant organic matter under the cattails was still absorbing all the water. On my third trip around I saw a plume of silt coming out of the marsh, confirming the water was finally reaching the pond, and sure enough by my 4th trip around the water was starting to flow over the mudflats. I was able to get back last night several hours after the rain ended. The pond had come up considerably, though still ringed by 4 feet of mud. Warmer weather is on the way, but I am a bit more confident that the tadpoles will make it through this year.

For the work of the stormwater coalition it is a reminder of what kind of rains can bring us localized accumulations of water, and a reminder that we should be on the lookout for places where green stormwater infrastructure can provide habitat for the neglected creatures of our community.

For those of you who are interested there are a variety of videos available om Youtube that show these tadpoles and the pond they inhabit. Moshassuckcritters https://www.youtube.com/user/Moshassuckcritters?view_as=public

I will also be leading a tour next Saturday June 14 at 9 AM showing off the forest restoration along the Moshassuck River and the wildlife of the burial ground, including the drainage swale and its tadpoles. For more info email me.

Greg Gerritt Friends of the Moshassuck

Letter on economics June 2014

The first section of the Sunday June 1 Providence Journal was filled with economic tales of woe. Wages have Flatilined, falling for many Rhode Islanders. At the same time pay for Corporate CEO’s is at an all time high compared to what everyone who works for them gets paid. And everyone is wondering why we can not get the Rhode Island economy to work well. I would suggest that instead of looking to give more to the 1%, that we focus our public policies on a better distribution of wealth, more ecological healing, food security and climate resilience. Current public policy suggests that real estate speculation is the main policy driver, with an ideological assault on regulation because we confuse building buildings on wetlands with economic development.

The way out of our dilemma is not corporate tax cuts, not the gutting of renewable energy standards, or the easing of water quality protections. The way forward begins with democracy, of reducing the power of money to control public policy, followed by community involvement in development decisions and a much stronger effort to make sure the benefits of brownfield reuse stays in the communities along the rivers rather than leaking to the other side of town.

Greg Gerritt

Real estate speculation undoes the economy

Response to an essay by Jim Russell

 

Until we stop confusing real estate speculation for economic development we shall continue to have too many people who can not afford a place to live. I do like Jim Russell’s point about neighborhoods with global versus neighborhoods with local economies. Unfortunately our governments only cater to the global neighborhoods.

 

As long as our expectation is that with each transaction the price of real estate is going to go up, we are never going to have affordable housing. Until we get used to real estate being priced lower in each transaction we are going to continue to chase our tail and never create a viable economy for a world going through climate change and in need of locally self reliant agriculture and food security. And the rent is still too damn high.

Response to pro jo series on the economy May 2014

Rhode Island will be unable to strengthen its middle class as long as it listens to the policy advocates for the 1%. As a close observer of the economic development process in Rhode Island and elsewhere, it is clear that those practicing economic development have an extraordinarily narrow view of development based on assumptions about planet Earth and Rhode Island that are no longer applicable.

Rhode Island is very unlikely to experience rapid economic growth. Our population is relatively stagnant, immigration and births roughly balancing deaths and emigration. Our infrastructure is old, we have not been a prime investment zone in 120 years. Climate change is going to make things quite interesting. Basing economic development plans on ever rising values of real estate creates the greater inequality that grinds down the economy even faster. The plan to give ever lower taxes to the rich does not work under these conditions. It lines the pockets of the wealthy as the rest of us get poorer.

Rhode Island is going to have to start its economic renaissance by accepting lower growth, sharing better, healing ecosystems, focusing on reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our food security. Free trade and a great business climate will not help communities in a low growth place. They increase inequality and speed up ecological damage.

Only an economy baed on ecological healing, economic justice, and economic democracy will bring prosperity to the communities most in need of it now.

Fowlers toad mating calls and note

 

 

May 11 2014

Last year I thought I figured out that the Fowler’s Toads start mating when he temperature at night reaches 60 degrees. This past week i started checking in the evening to see if mating season had begun, with no action earlier in the week as the temperatures in the evening were in the low 50′s. Last night it was warm enough for the first time, and as predicted the toads were calling.

The buzzes are the Fowler’s toads, but there are several other things calling that i could not see and could not identify. Anyone with knowledge of what else is calling, please let me know. Thanks.

 

Checked again on the evening of the 11th, Toads were calling, going to try to check when it gets cooler later in the week too.  See if I have the temperature thing down.

 

Prosperity Op-ed May 2014

I have seen a steady stream of words claiming that if Rhode Island would just do what the rich folks want us to do, everything would be okay. Rather than calling it doing the bidding of the 1% the think tanks give it a bit of a veneer and call it the business climate. Whatever you call it, the prescriptions called for by the propagandists for the ruling class are almost exactly the opposite of what Rhode Island needs to create prosperity. According to a variety of authors including the Business Curmudgeon and Kansas Inc, the Kansas state agency tasked with economic development, there is absolutely no evidence that undoing environmental regulations does anything useful for the economy, and cutting taxes has an effect so small that you probably would not notice. The Business Curmudgeon is very clear about how little value is generated by these reports

 

” In fact, we are reluctant to touch any state or city business climate studies–although we will. With very few exceptions, most should never be read. Period! Most rankings are little more than bullets fired at an enemy–and like all bullets, they should be dodged. Most indexes and rankings will decide for you what is valued in a business climate and toss out all the rest. … in the process the reader becomes cannon fodder in the polarization of America. If nobody read this stuff, it might eventually go away. – See more at: http://journal.c2er.org/2013/02/business-climate-revisited/#sthash.Tmn6uY6w.dpuf ”

 

On the other hand there is an abundance of evidence linking strong regulatory climates with healthier economies beginning with Stephen Meyers classic 1991 study. The innovation generated by the need to clean up, combined with efficiencies generated by not throwing things away, has had a huge positive effect on many bottom lines even before we discuss the economics of the health and well being benefits that strong regulations bring. A number of studies have shown that the various sections of the Clean Air Act provide economic benefits ranging from 4 to 1 to 40 to 1 more than the costs of compliance in our communities.

 

Beyond bludgeoning us with the business climate, economic development efforts in Rhode Island are mostly misguided because they seek goals that do not match current conditions There is pretty good evidence that places like Rhode Island that saw their industrial development peaks more than 100 years ago, have sprawled away from urbanism, and have few natural resources that can be mined or drilled for have a long term drop in growth rates that are not amenable to reversal by business climate methodology. The more Rhode Island thrashes around for growth by giving the rich the tax cuts and loose wetland regulations they want, the less likely we are to achieve community prosperity.

 

Understanding the slow growth environment we find ourselves in, and understanding that in order to achieve prosperity iRhode Island will need to heal ecosystems, reduce economic inequality ( the literature on how rising inequality undermines economies is growing rapidly) , reduce our use of fossil fuels, adapt to climate change and dramatically improve our food security, one has to wonder why so many in government and business continue to offer the same tired formula they have offered Rhode Island for 30 years, when all it has brought us are things like 38 Studios and nearly brought us a billion dollar debt for a white elephant container port in Quonset that was only averted when the people rose up to stop the elite from acting stupid with our money.

 

Clearly following the business climate think tanks prescriptions will prevent us from reducing inequality and getting ready for the changing climate, The World Bank has recently discovered that in low income communities making sure the fruits of development accrue to the community rather than get captured by outsiders, and practicing economic democracy, in which the community members have a voice and a vote in how money is invested in the community, is the only way to create the triple bottom line win-win-win our communities need.

Sustainable cities blog comment

I live in an old industrial city in a place where natural resource industries died even earlier than our industrial base. We were industrial based on water power, which started fading around 1890. We have high unemployment. As does every other place around that is not scarfing up resources faster and faster and polluting faster and faster. North Dakota and its boom towns based on climate destroying fossil fuel extraction comes to mind. The business class keeps telling us low taxes and little regualtion would be good for us, but we know better. Essentially we have to admit that we have reached the evolutionary point of a low growth economy, maybe even a shrinking economy. But that is so unamerican the rich can not comprehend it. So they thrash around, and increase the inequality in the economy while undoing what little environmental protections we have, thereby making our plight worse.

 

The more I study, the more obvious it becomes that economic devleopment has to be based on ecological healing and economic justice if it is to provide long term sustainability. It has to make sure the poor get the benefits and it has to be based on economic democracy. Developing the economuy for the 1% is what is killing the planet and our communities. And we need to acknowledge that unless we think we live on 4 planets, not just the earth, there is no way to keep growing the economy in the west if the poorer parts of the planet are to have anything.

 

Greg Gerritt Providence RI www.ProsperityForRI.com

The woodchuck

 

I saw the woodchuck several times over the course of a week before I was able to get a shot of it.  I think I posted about 10 seconds of muskrat shots last year, but that has been the only other possible mammal shots (except for humans) that I have posted. But with this woodchuck video I now have on Moshassuckcritters videos that focus on each of the major vertebrate classes.  Fish sex, probably due to the name, has been my most popular video so far,   The season has not yet started for tadpoles and frogs, but amphibians, especially the Fowler’s Toads, have been a primary focus.  Today’s woodchuck video is a bit chaotic because I was getting some very good turtle video and I went back to turtles when the woodchuck disappeared and then had to swing around to get more woodchuck pictures.  And I have a variety of bird videos posted.  Not bad for a little pond in the city.

Climate change testimony links

Representative Handy, I will present testimony today but I wanted to provide the commmittee with a few links that I may refer to when I speak today.  They relate to the effect of environmental regulations on the economy.  The track record is clear, strong environmental regulations and healthy ecosystems correlate with healthier economies, and there is no evidence what so ever that weakening environmental regulations in the name of economic growth does one whit of good, maybe increasing its contribution to GDP because of all the money spent fixing the damage but clearly effecting community prosperity.   In an effort to supoport the committees knowledge of climate change and the economy i offer these annotated links.
The seminal paper in the field is from 1991 by the late Dr Stephen Meyer who was at MIT .  Here is the second version of the paper that Meyers wrote.
Here is a quote:
“Perhaps more to the point those who live and work in states that have vigorously pursued environmental quality and are now contemplating rolling back environmental standards as a quick fix to jump-starting their economies out of recession should reconsider. Based on the evidence there is no reason to expect that loosening environmental standards will have any effect on the pace of state economic growth.”
I have searched the literature and there is no actual study that refutes this that I have been able to find over the last 20 years.  We get assertions by Koch Brother funded organizations like the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity saying this is not true, but no actual studies.  And considering how the Koch brothers regularly deny about climate change, why would we expect the organizations that they fund to be any more honest about the business climate.
Another paper I wish to refer you to is by Kansas Inc.  Kansas Inc., is the state agency in Kansas that does the same sort of work as the RI Commerce Corporation, promote economic development.  Kansas is dominated by conservative politicians and Kansas Inc is far from a liberal stronghold.  I think you will find their analysis of the business climate and regulations on the economy rather telling.
The third paper I commend to the committee is by the Business Curmudgeon and is an analysis of a series of papers  including the Kansas Inc study on the effect of Business Climate on the economy.  Again you will note that there is no evidence that regulation such as proposed for plastic bags in Rhode Island harms the economy.  I actually think we could even get agreement after looking at the numbers that the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have been a boon for our communities.
I hope the committee reads these papers and ponders them well.  These issues will not only come up as we ponder our efforts to avoid our slow moving disaster via climate change, but the mistaken belief that environmental regulation harms the economy permeates all of Smith Hill and the media.  It would be great if the committee truly informed itself rather than buying into the memes propagated by the wealthy.
I would be happy to discuss this further with any members of the committee separately or together.
Greg Gerritt
Providence RI

 

It ain’t bragging if its true

Walter Brennan on The Guns of Will Sonnett played a crusty old gun slinger with a signature line.  It ain’t bragging if its true.
Sometimes I think  about what i have done, and especially about where I have been right on policy issues, proven correct over time despite the castigation i received.
I will not take any credit for things like figuring out war is stupid and that American soldiers should not be used to police the world.  Nor for being the first Green party candidate for legislature in the US. I will not claim my actions made the difference in what happened.  I am just going to list a few issues that straddle the ecology/economy interface in which my unpopular stands were attacked by the mainstream, but my analysis has stood the test of time.
Clearcutting:  More than anyone else publicly talking about it I used the statistics to show that current (1990′s) forestry in Maine was completely unsustainable.  The paper companies tried to smear us, but they cut less wood today because the forest could not sustain the levels being cut.  And the amount of clearcutting has also greatly diminished.
Combined sewer overflows:  I wrestled quite a bit with the Narragansett Bay Commission over the design of the CSO project arguing they needed smaller scale community friendly ecological systems to deal with stormwater.  They wanted a tunnel.  At the last stakeholder meeting they came in with a modified proposal acknowledging the need for what is today called Green Infrastructure in the program.  Recently NBC called for a reconvening of the CSO stakeholders because they are realizing that they can not afford to do Phase 3 as planned and need to go to Green Infrastructure to make the program work. Sort of a different welcome ths time around as I sit as a stakeholder.
The Quonset Megaport:  If the con men trying to build the port had succeeded in getting RI to put up the money, it would have been about to open just as the Great Recession Hit.  I was also directly calling the deforestation in Indonesia a threat to RI if we worked to accommodate it.  The fight over palm oil today and its climate change and deforestation impacts makes my point well.
So here is my next stand:  Ignore my advice if it pleases you but consider my track record.   Getting the climate right is going to be MUCH more important for the health and PROSPERITY of RI Communities than getting the business climate right.  Following the business climate line and policy will lead to disaster, ecologically, economically, socially.  The things we do to build resilience and reduce carbon emissions, and the social policies around community involvement and democracy that must accompany and precede the shifts in economic activity are the way forward.
greg

Mergansers in the Moshassuck Follow up

This morning going downtown I saw a female diving in the Moshassuck.  I was able to watch as it probed along the unevenness of the eroded wall in the river opposite the RISD dorm condos.  I watched two dives, thought I saw the bird swallow when it returned to the surface the first dive, but definitely saw it had something in its mouth, maybe 3 inches long that it had pulled from a crevice, and then swallow it when it surfaced the second time.  I am starting to see a pattern.  They hunt crevices.  They are not fast enough to swim things down in open water, the snatch in crevices where there is no where to go.  With the perfect beak for small places.  Long and very thin.   Not only brightened by the mergansers, brightened by the life that supports them in the river.

 

 

Mergansers in the Moshassuck

Often i write of Menhaden in the Moshassuck, but they are not due for a while.  But over the years late winter is often a time to see Mergansers in the Moshassuck.  Mergansers are large ducks that swim under water to catch their prey.  There are several kinds of Mergansers, but over the last few weeks there have been about 7 Common Mergansers in the river along Canal St in Providence.  Mergansers are striking birds, the males black and white with a red fish-grabbing bill.  The females have a gray body and a cinnamon head.

 

Seeing them consistently over a few weeks is treat enough, brightening every trip to and from downtown.  But the other day I got a special treat.  I watched one of the females diving down to the bottom and investigate rocks looking for food for a few seconds as i walked by.  You see them fly.  You see them  paddle on the surface, but rarely do you see them in the feeding zone.  You need shallow water and  an elevated perch.  Canal St fills the bill, so Mergansers join with the menhaden, eels, snapping turtles, cormorants, and blue crabs. The walk along Canal St offers a glimpse of their underwater lives that I do not get many other places.  That so much lives between the canal walls is a testament to the determination of life to pass along genes.  That I get to observe it and pass along the news is one of my joys.

 

 

Recent comments I made on nation of change

  • The Real Job Killers

    • ProsperityForRI     • a minute ago 

      We hear all the screaming about the business climate, but it is very clear that paying attention to what we need to do to adapt tothe climate changes coming, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the overall climate crisis is much more important in the long term for creating prosperity in our communities than doing what the rich tell us to do. You cannot end poverty without healing ecosystems, you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty. and we can not do either if the rich keep their hands on the war machine.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Has the Left Surrendered? The Overdue Conversation We Need

    • ProsperityForRI     • 8 minutes ago 

      Yeah I guess I am not a liberal. I am not and have never been a Democrat. I am a proud member of the Green Party and know that Barack Obama has been just as bad for the planet and my community as we predicted he would be. I did not vote for him. I voted for Cynthia MicKinney in 2008 and Jill Stein in 2012. I collected hundreds of signatures both years to get them on the ballot in RI. War is wrong. The NSA needs to be closed. The wars of the empire ought to be outlawed and the perpetrators of them ought to be tried at the Hague. Economic growth is destroying the planet, and has become uneconomic growth. it lines the pockets of the rich and impoverishes post industrial communities. Loss of biodiversity and climate change are jointly an existential crisis for civilization and we are failing. Inequality and lack of democracy are holding back communities.

      The Democrats are so beholden to the rich that they support things like TPP. I do not even talk of Republicans as it is improper to talk about those with so little contact with reality.

      And rather than disappearing, the left is alive and well, just not in the two party system that has been more than ever captured by the rich. The young are organizing co-ops, starting organic community gardens, stopping gmos, mitigating climate change, all the things the liberals and the rich do not want on the agenda.

      My focuses on ecological healing, economic justice, and democracy as the road to community prosperity. Western economies have to shrink so that those elsewhere can rise to healthy levels. We need to figure out how to shrink in ways that helps communitiesw all over the world. Food security is the future of our economy, Right now I am trying to shift public debate towards the idea It is much more important to pay attention to the climate than the business climate if we want prosperity. But I have been at this since the first earth day, and defining the left by liberals and the Democratic Party makes less sense than ever.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    North Carolina Blames Duke Energy Corporation for Toxic Coal Ash Spill

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    What if Americans Demanded the Ouster of this Government?

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 days ago 

      We held a little demonstration against the TPP the other day in front of the federal courthouse. 20 people, mostly old. Department of Homeland Insecurity watched us the whole time. We did get a quote into the paper saying “obviously the threats to the US must be very small or the police ridiculously overstaffed if they have the time to spend an hour with people openly advocating non violence.”

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Apocalypses Everywhere

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 days ago 

      I mostly agree with Chernus, and while I am sometimes described as gleefully apocalyptic, I do my work as ProsperityForRI because I think an economy based on justice and ecological healing, which means a smaller economy, will be good for my community and the people who live here.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    President Obama Pledges $2 Billion+ for Drought-Stricken California and U.S. Climate Resilience Fund

  • Discussion on WPRI

    Protest demands end to govt. spying

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      it is most clear that NSA spying is not compatible with democratic governance. Abolish the NSA and actually practice peace.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Weak Job Growth, but Declining Unemployment Give Mixed Picture in January

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      What we are seeing is trying to follow the dictates of the business climate. what the economy really needs is to pay attention to the real climate and doing the things we ought to do to make the no carbon transition. That would bring community prosperity whereas the current system brings us nothing but inequality and environmental destruction.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Island In Scotland to be First 100% Self-Sustaining Place on Earth

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      I doubt the island is truly sustainable, but what I like is the realization that democracy is a critical factor in creating economies that work for communities on planet Earth.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Why the Lousy Jobs Report Boosted Wall Street

    • ProsperityForRI     • 20 days ago 

      Growth is hallucinatory on a planet with such damaged ecosystems. Constanza, Daly, and others continually point out that we need to use less and share more, not expect more. Post industrial economies are going to grow very slowly if at all, and wages are falling, The need to pay off interest keeps them burning with uneconomic growth that costs more than it provides, especially as technology makes more of us obsolete. Food security needs to a big part of our strategy.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    The Global Elite is Insane

    • ProsperityForRI     • 23 days ago 

      I like defining the rich as insane. i doubt it actually helps us undo the crap they offer, but it does define the problem well.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Land Conflict and Injustice Development in ‘New India’

    • ProsperityForRI     • a month ago 

      The displacement of the forest people is going on everywhere, and given the health of the planet, it is the stupidest thing now being done on planet earth with the possible exception of fracking.

  • Discussion on AlterNet

    12 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About America

    • ProsperityForRI     • a year ago 

      Unfortunately even the article, which shoots up the stupid republican tricks, is wrong because it expects economic growth, which is basically impossible under conditions of ecological collapse

  • Discussion on AlterNet

    Why Do Americans Keep Getting Suckered By Right-Wing Lies? | Tea Party and the Right | AlterNet

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 years ago 

      I spend most of my efforts trying to convince the people practicing economic development in my community that their economic plans are not going to work, and that only a radically green approach will do. Every day i get a bit more traction. I call it viral marketing. I am infecting my community. We can do this, but the Democrats never will figure it out.

Preview of Climate, Business Climate and Prosperity essay

Greg Gerritt Feb 7, 2014
I am researching and writing an essay tentatively entitled “Climate, Business Climate and Prosperity in Rhode Island”. Finishing it will take months, but the radio silence was getting to me.  Hence this very abbreviated undocumented version.  I am spending hours looking at references and figuring out how to say what each article says in 2 sentences that fit in with what else I have written.  Every day as I delve deeper I find more nuance but also more confirmation of the misdirection in economic policy globally, nationally, and in my community.  I am not alone in the struggle to change these policies.  Every day new centers of activism arise.  The specific mission of ProsperityForRI.com and the Catalyzing Prosperity project is to bring what we are learning about the economy/ecology interface globally to the policy discussions in Rhode Island,  The focus of the research and writing project is to counter-act the obsession with business climate and economic growth found among Rhode Island politicians and business leaders that continues to lead us nowhere.  The goal is more prosperous communities in Rhode Island.  This short paper simply states what is going on without the documentation and data that will be in the final paper.
The hypothesis being explored is that the current obsession with the business climate actually harms our communities.  There is very little evidence that following the prescriptions offered by the business climate indexers actually work even on their own terms, which is simply faster growth in GDP,  There is evidence that following the prescriptions harm economies and communities in an astounding variety of ways, and that if we actually did the math we would find our communities are becoming less prosperous in the old industrial west as the externalities catch up to us and the technological revolutions create economic bubbles that undermine economic security for our communities
The flip side of that is the things that we have to do to keep climate change to as small a number as possible and to mitigate and adapt to the harm already in the pipeline is both much more likely to benefit our communities economically than following the business climate route, and that what we should be doing to help our communities move forward is absolutely not the business climate prescription for governance.
Beyond the business think tanks obsession with low taxes it should be noted that much of the regulatory madness in America that in some ways infuriates all of us, not just the think tanks or business community, is primarily the result of shenanigans by the same forces that obsess on the business climate.  We all know the  American legislation process is like sausage making, full of deals and compromises.  That is politics. But the specific things the business lobbyists get into the legislation that they can not kill are often designed to make the laws harder to use effectively.  The lobbyists operate under the theory that if we can make it clunky maybe we can get it undone next year.  And if that fails, we cut the enforcement budget so folks have to wait a long time for permits.  Then we can blame it on bad regulations, rather than accepting that developers both wanted the regulations hard to interpret so they could fudge a lot of things, and then cut the budget for enforcement and permitting so they could use the slowness of the permitting process to undermine protection of the public interest in the pursuit of greater profits.
I underpin much of my work with the understanding that due to the ecological constraints of planet Earth further damage to the ecosystems of the planet are likely to have very serious negative consequences for most of humanity, and we have already reached the point where sinks are full and resource extraction is getting more difficult and expensive as we seek ever further and deeper in a desperate race for more stuff.  The reality is that yes we have more throughput, and many places around the world desperately need economic growth so that people can get enough to eat,  but in the USA 99% of the growth in income is going to 1% of the population, and it is all funny money from economic shenanigans or what Herman Daly refers to as uneconomic growth, which I define as an expansion of economic activity that in aggregate does more harm than good, ecologically, socially, politically, while reducing the need for labor with nearly all growth in wealth flowing to the 1% while the overall growth rate continues to drop as urbanization and deforestation reach natural limits and inequality slows the pseudo growth machine too.
I have friends who are practioners in the alternative energy industry saying let the market decide too, make it easier to do business.  Two problems, The fossil fuel lobby has more money and their subsidies include the military industrial complex that undergirds 1% power. Besides the Koch family is funding efforts around the country to make it harder to install solar and wind power. We need to change the conversation, not just have the market destroy communities and ecosystems slightly less swiftly.
Funny how it is exactly the family most responsible for climate denying propaganda in the world, people who detest real evidence and science, who are also key funders of the most outrageous business climate reports.  To me it is no surprise that the business climate reports are useless as policy prescriptions because the evidence they use is as thin as the science of climate deniers, and is paid for by the same ideologues.
Dealing with climate change is likely to be the most important thing people have to do for the next 100 years.  It is way too important to be left to the 1%, And since so much of what happens in our communities happens via economic activity, that economic activity is way too important to be left to the 1%.  The same people advocating for the Keystone XL pipeline are the same ones telling us to follow the business climate prescriptions.  No community input, no right to protest, no regulations, low taxes, military subsidies for the oil industry, lax regulations of chemicals, undo the clean water act.  Allow developers to build anywhere, and then keep flood insurance payments artificially low, allowing the tax payers to subsidize the gross abandonment of common sense.  That in a nutshell is the business climate prescription. Public loss, private profit and prevent dissension from getting out of hand.  The ideologues of the right detest the fact that helping our communities reduce the heat index and cope with the problems created by climate change will take strong regulation of fossil fuel emissions, promotion of alternative energy, a shrinking of the military, a reduced effort to go ever further and deeper to get fossil fuels, an understanding of limits, investment in communities, improving food security, and real democracy.  And they are willing to stop at nothing to maintain their power and privilege.
I read a world bank study on their forest lending programs. http://www.redd-monitor.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ForestCODE-Jan-2013.pdf   Forest dwellers tend to be the most disenfranchised, disempowered and marginalized people in their countries.  Monetarily they are the poorest people, the least attached to the modern economy, though if left alone in the forest often they are more well nourished than tenant and small holder agriculturalists or slum dwellers in the cities.  As forests are among the most valuable resources on the planet, and one of the most critical for the development of urban economies, the powerful have been stealing forests forever.  I wrote an article analyzing the World Bank report  http://prosperityforri.com/the-world-bank-sort-of-figures-it-out/
Here are some of the key findings I picked out
WB   2.79  page 56   The focus on engaging local resource users in decision-making is a vital element of resource management that holds potential for increasing synergy among  the three pillars. Increased local participation in environmental management is viewed as a means to eliminate inefficiency and corruption in administration of the forestry sector while enhancing equity in the distribution of economic benefits.
WB  2.82  page 57   Across the World Bank forest-related projects in the Sahel, the failure to explicitly address asymmetrical power relationships between decentralized bodies and forestry agents is likely to reduce the ability of local groups to actually exercise decision-making power in forest management.
WB  Page 100 The evolution of  the partnerships towards holistic landscape-level approaches that combine forest conservation and SFM with climate change mitigation and adaptation, improved food security and climate smart agricultural development are important achievements. The Bank‘s efforts to integrate broader governance concerns and issues, including the efforts to protect and enhance the rights of indigenous forest-dependent communities, into these approaches are also recognized as important  achievements.
 
In plain English, following the dictates of the rich and powerful, allowing business as usual makes poverty worse, harms ecosystems, and undermines democracy ion forest communities and nations.  In Rhode Island it is not the residents of East Greenwich that need economic development, it is the people of our EJ communities, our communities full of Brownfields: Olneyville, Pawtucket, Central Falls, West Warwick.  Old industrial places that electric power grids and automobiles made obsolete.    The people of these communities are the disempowered, disenfranchised, marginalized people of Rhode Island.  I would argue that just as the World Bank found that only systematic efforts to neutralize the power of the 1% so that the community could make its own decisions lead to good economic outcomes (always linked to good ecological outcomes) for the people in the community.  In Rhode Island the same things apply.  And that dealing with climate change is the way forward if we use the tools available.
I can assert anything I want.  I have tried mightily in this short essay to avoid the details and footnotes, but ultimately a fully documented description is necessary to make a radical case break the log jam the powerful have put in our way,  And to weave all of the connections that are necessary to a full understanding of the problems and the way forward.     I hope to have it written by summer.  In the mean time send comments and questions.  greg

GMOs

Capitalism and free markets are based on the idea that everyone will have perfect information. The GMO industry claims to be for free enterprise, but they seem to constantly violate the rule of perfect information for all consumers intentionally and deceptively. clearly they are nothing but thuggish rent seekers seeking subsidies by buying public officials.

 

Response to the BRWCT event

Yesterday I attended a statehouse presentation coordinated by the RI Bays, Rivers, and Watersheds Coordination Team reviewing the shoreline special area management plan, the Beach SAMP. This little commentary is primarily going to those who attended, and a few of my colleagues.  The speakers, primarily from government agencies, spoke on climate change induced sea level rise and what it means for Rhode Island.  All well and good, but it was infused with a great deal of magical thinking about keeping intact our shoreline communities with private control of access to the shore while expecting public subsidy in order to safely keep them there.  There was a stunned silence after I finished my question about magical thinking, though eventually the speaker representing the Real Estate industry mouthed some platitudes.
In this age of austerity, in an age of shrinking livelihoods for many Americans, in an age where the rich demand that we cut their taxes and kowtow to their every whim, while they suck up all the money and insist that free enterprise is the way to the future, we need to call out the hypocrisy of the owners of the shore line when they demand that we either publicly fund the infrastructure they need to maintain their houses and lifestyles and allow them to violate environmental rules and common sense, while they fund climate deniers and demand that the poor be abandoned.
The sea is coming.  The issue is not how long can we hold it back for the benefit of home owners, it is how do we adapt to rising sea levels and the slow disintegration of our economy as the climate creates disaster after disaster.  We can not allow rebuilding along the cost, we need to engineer a retreat while we create much larger coastal ecological buffers that will reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our feed security.
Recycling the materials in coastal properties, especially the copper, before it falls into the sea is much better for all of us than waiting for the next storm.  If the rich insist on waiting it out until the sea comes for them, they should pay the cost of their own stupidity and not expect the rest of us to rescue them and bail them out.
Greg Gerritt

 

Bugs in the Burial Ground 2013

This is the final video in my 2013 series.  I do not know what most of the critters in this video are. The beginning of the video captures images of critters I netted while seeking tadpoles in Providence’s  North Burial Ground drainage swale.  I have some of those same critters captured in pixels swimming around the swale in natural habitat.  The purple flowers are I believe arrow leaf.  They grow in the drainage swale, filling the pond in late June and making it impossible to film things swimming in the water after that.  The latter part of the video was filmed at the permanent pond in the burial ground.   greg

Turtles in Action

 

This video project is part of the evolving Wildlife of the North Burial Ground project of Friends of the Moshassuck funded by the Rhode Island Rivers Council.
There is one full time pond in the NBG.  When i first started paying attention about 5 years ago on the sunning log you would see up to 6 turtles at a time. This past summer there were 14 after several years of growing a bit each year.  Painted Turtles.  There is also a snapping turtle in the pond most of the time, but I rarely see it and have never captured it in pixels.
Turtles are but one attraction in the pond.  I have video of fish, insects, muskrats, various birds, and various life stages of the Bullfrog from the pond all posted on this channel.
Turtles are hard to film.  They ought to be relatively easy.  They are largish, relatively slow moving.  I am still learning to make videos and had great difficulty getting clear pictures.  Besides the murky water that makes in water shots difficult, on the sunning log the intense reflection from the low morning sun off of the shells and heads means i rarely get clear pictures or good color.  Hopefully I will figure out how to deal with that eventually as I learn how to use the camera better.  And learn how to edit.
There is only 1 log to sun on in the morning in the pond and when it gets crowded it is hard to find a place to climb on.  That provides the bulk of the  action in the video.  I do not think watching a turtle repeatedly try to climb out of the pond onto the log and keep falling back in can hold a viewers attention for very long, so i experimented with speeding it up on occasion.  I think if the camera man had a steadier hand it would work pretty well.  So watch for it in 2014 as the season progresses.  And enjoy my first years efforts here.
I think I now know much more about turtles than I did before I started this endeavor, but I suspect I will learn much more over the next few years of study.  Hopefully that too will inform future posts on this channel.

 

Birds of the North Burial Ground 2013

This video project is part of the evolving Wildlife of the North Burial Ground project of Friends of the Moshassuck funded by the Rhode Island Rivers Council. The project evolved out of observations of tadpoles in the drainage swale, but now will video any animal we can get on camera. Birds are hard to video for an amateur like me. I have not mastered panning with them smoothly or keeping them in focus. Not quite like bullfrogs sitting in the pond or the tadpole cities of the drainage swale where motion is not an issue. Hopefully the 2014 version will be better.

Bullfrogs in the NBG 2013

After several years of observations, with a little funding from the Rhode Island Rivers Council I began a video project to record wildlife in Providence’s North Burial Ground, with an emphasis on the tadpoles in a little drainage swale near the maintenance building.   The Misadventures of an Urban Naturalist tells some of that story. There is also a larger and permanent pond in the burial ground, and it may be the best wildlife watching place in all of Providence The Bullfrogs of the larger pond were always of interest, but in some ways I used them as a back up, something else to focus on in case the drainage swale went dry and produced no tadpoles.  As I noted above, the larger pond has an abundance of wildlife, 3 types of heron, ducks, geese, cormorants, kingfishers, and swifts, as well as songbirds in profusion, muskrats, occasional otters, a growing population (from 6 to 14 over the last few years)  of painted turtles, several varieties of fish, and bullfrogs.

The size of the pond, the inaccessibility of various parts of the shoreline, and the murkiness of the water means that unlike the drainage swale certain parts of the bullfrog life cycle are inaccessible.  The most obvious missing piece is that I have never seen, let alone filmed, the early stages of bullfrog tadpole life.  Fowler’s Toads and Gray Tree Frogs complete their breeding cycle in one season.  They mate, the eggs are laid, the tadpoles develop and the frogs and toads hop away from the pond between May and August.  Bullfrogs overwinter as tadpoles the first year.  Bullfrogs mate later in the season, so the tadpoles are in the water from July until the following July.  I have never seen the newly hatched  tadpoles in the late summer.  They do not appear to swim near the surface close to shore, so I have no idea where they are.
What I do see of tadpoles is the tadpoles that have overwintered in the pond beginning in May, once the water warms up.  They float near the surface, swim around,  jump out of the water, and are generally visible nearly every day.  What gets my attention is the jumping, and the video that accompanies this essay reflects that fascination with jumping tadpoles, including the use of slow motion so the motion can be seen a bit more clearly.
In the spring, in addition to the tadpoles, there are the frogs that have overwintered.  I have a collection of shots of the various frogs that have overwintered, the rogues gallery.  There is nothing systematic about these shots, I take them when I find a frog in range,.  I know there are not very many frogs in the pond in the spring, but it would take a much more scientific approach than I can muster to actually determine the population size.
The transformation from tadpole to frog in early July is fast.  I have found only one shot that shows a Bullfrog tadpole with legs, in contrast to the abundance of footage I have of Fowlers Toads and Gray Tree Frogs with legs,   It seems like one day there is an abundance of jumping and milling tadpoles, the next day there are no tadpoles, but the shoreline of the pond is covered in small frogs.  To give some sort of reckoning of the new abundance I came up with the idea of capturing on film how many take off when I go near them.  I have shots from 2 locations, in the northwest corner of the pond near the outflow and looking north from the peninsula/point in the center of the pond on the western shore.  Slow motion is again used to show more details.
After the new frogs show up the herons become more common (Green and Night as well as Great Blue) and the population slowly dwindles under the predation until they go to sleep for the winter in the bottom of the pond, waiting for spring and the chance to do it again.  I retreat into editing, waiting for spring and a chance to see the pageant of life played out in a pond again.

Rhode map commentary

Question on the Rhode map website:

What is your vision for a new approach to economic development in Rhode Island?

My Response:  only get 1000 characters
The most important thing is to understand current conditions.  And key conditions are climate change, growing injustice, and the end of economic growth for 99% of the population.  We have to throw out the business climate BS and realize that unless we directly address inequality the economy is going to continue to deteriorate.  Another study just came out pointing how rising inequality harms economies.  Even the pope can figure it out, why not Rhode Island?
And unless we heal our ecosystems, our communities will fail.  Climate change is about to drop us off a cliff, so what we need in that case is to stop using fossil fuels and start focusing on food security.  We need to rebuild forests, fisheries, and soils, which means compost and no more food scrap in the landfill.
We need to clearly remember that there is absolutely no correlation between a good business climate and a healthy economy.  As long as business interests reduce taxes on the rich, RI will never work.

The road to prosperity

Originally written as a letter to the editor December 18, 2013  Greg Gerritt

On December 18, 2013 in a remarkable juxtaposition the Providence Journal had an article “Analysts say income gap impedes growth”,  an op-ed by by Steven Frias “Warnings of RI Stagnation go way back”, and an op-ed by John J. Colby “Wage regulation okay for the well to do”.  Mr Frias repeats the tired old cliches about the business climate saying that the only way to move the RI economy forward is to cut taxes on the rich and remove regulations that protect the public health and the environment.  The problem with Mr Frias’s argument is that there is absolutely no correlation between a good business climate and a healthy economy, and that if Rhode Island obeyed the business climate shysters what we would end up doing is increasing inequality further, which even economists and the pope are starting to realize harms the economy, as well as destroying democracy.

 

Mr Colby points out just how inequality has harmed our economy, the poor are unable to be the consumers our consumerist economy seems to demand.  But considering the state of the Earth, and the likelihood that changes in the climate due to overconsumption are likely to overwhelm the effects of any boost the 1% will get from adopting the greed is good model, a model based on consumerism is unlikely to help our communities.  Even the World Bank knows that ecological healing and economic justice are likely to produce better economic results than anything else in marginalized communities.  Time for Rhode Island to learn that too.

Response to article on November Jobs report

This is actually the new normal. We are unlikely to ever see economic growth large enough to create lots of jobs as technology will destroy jobs faster than it creates them. American workers are going to see a reduction in per capita income as our national economy shrinks.

The real challenge is not to keep it growing, that is an ecological and social dead end, but to shrink it in a way that grows our Gross National Happiness. The way to do that is ecological healing, shrinking inequality, and focusing on community food security and climate resilience.

Comments on ESA article

Read an article on Endangered Species Act success.  Here is what I wrote in response:

 

Wish the Republicans could remember when they were a party of conservation and how much it benefits communities. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, The ESA, are some of the most important legislation Congress has ever passed, but every day they are under threat of repeal despite near unanimous support for them from the American public.

2013 BND sites in Rhode Island

The 17th Annual Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange

Friday November 29, 2013

If you have a coat to give, please drop it off.  If you need a coat, please pick one up.  

 Some see Buy Nothing Day as an escape from the marketing mind games and the frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season.  Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of over-consumption.  In Rhode Island  as part of International Buy Nothing Day, we hold a winter coat exchange in various locations around the state, where people who can donate coats, do so, and people who need coats pick them up.. Volunteers are needed to help with this life-affirming event.

Locations in Rhode Island

 

Providence  State House Lawn  brick patio across from the mall 

Collection and give away   November 29 9 AM to 1 PM

Rain location  Gloria Dei Lutheran Church  15 Hayes Street  Providence

Contacts Greg Gerritt: 331-0529; gerritt@mindspring.com;

Phil Edmonds: 461-3683; philwhistle@gmail.com

 

Pawtucket –  175 Main St   Blackstone Valley Visitors Center

Coats accepted at the visitors center and many other locations in Pawtucket  all through November during business hours.

Collection at November Winters Farmers Markets Wednesday evening and Saturday morning at Hope Artiste Village

Coats given away Friday  Nov. 29  10AM  -2PM

Contact  Arthur Pitt ; kingarthur02940@yahoo.com     401-369-1918 http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/NAP-_Neighborhood_Alliance_of_Pawtucket/home

East Providence  Bridgepoint    850 Waterman Ave

Coats collected and given away Friday November 29  9 AM to 1 PM 

Coats collected throughout November at various locations in East Providence and Seekonk including the Newman YMCA.

Contact  David or Lisa Spencer  401-965-9099    Dspencer@atlanticpaper.com

 Newport – St Paul’s Church 12 West Marlborough St.

Coats collected and given away 10 AM to Noon

Contact  Reverend Becky Baumann    pastorbeckybaumann@gmail.com  Coats also available at other church events

Wakefield –St. Francis Church, 114 High Street,

Coats Collected and given away 10AM to noon

Contact   Tom Abbott   401-364-0778

East Greenwich      St. Luke’s Church, 99 Pierce Street, East Greenwich

Drop Off and Exchange 10 am – 2 pm    In downstairs cafeteria.

Contact:  Jean Ann Guliano, 401-323-5196, jaw408@aol.com

Greater Providence YMCA’s sites

All sites collecting coats throughout November    Most sites distributing Coats on November 29   9 AM to 1 PM

East Side/Mount Hope

Drop off coats throughout November   Not a distribution site

Contact    Christy Clausen    401-521-0155       cclausen@gpymca.org

 

West Bay Family YMCA Branch

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Kaitlyn Rooney     401-295-6501    krooney@gpymca.org

Cranston YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Mike Norklun     401-943-0444     mnorklun@gpymca.org

 

Bayside YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Michael Squatrito    401-245-2444    Msquatrito@gpymca.org

 

Kent County YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact  Patricia Driscoll     401-828-0130    pdriscoll@gpymca.org

 

 

South County YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact    Melissa Bousquet   401-783-3900      mbousquet@gpymca.org

 

Newman YMCA (Seekonk, MA)

Collection site only

Contact    Paula Roy  508-336-7103    proy@gpymca.org

Resistance to police commissioners

The mainstream media has universally condemned the protest at Brown this week, but they are grossly wrong in their understanding of what happened.

 

First:  Free speech is for the people, not the government.  The job of the government is to protect the right of the people to free speech.  The government already has too many ways to get its message out, overt  and covert.  The government seems to lie freely, cover up its crimes daily≤ and try to squeeze all of the space away from whistle blowers and truth tellers.  The government owns the microphones, the media seems to acquiesce, but the people must rise up strongly and fiercely and nonviolently to prevent the government from overstepping its bounds.

 

In this context think again about what happened at Brown.  a behind the scenes donor wants to hear from a conservative proponent of violence against the people, the students hear about this, though not necessarily about the back door game being played in choosing him. The students petition the administration saying this is a really bad choice, the administration blows them off,.  Then at the event the administration just sort of bumbles about.  The speaker leaves with his tail between his legs and all across the world people opposed to the police state cheer.

 

Lets also put what was done in context in terms of the type of protest it was.  If the students had marched on  police department headquarters in NYC protesting the policy of stop and frisk, the NYPD would have beaten them with sticks, handcuffed them, denied them medical care.  They have done this to protesters regularly for YEARS.  The NYPD and its leadership have acted unconstitutionally for years.

 

Kelly then decides it is okay to come to Providence and spread the message that the ruling class thinks it is just fine to harass the poor and the people who do not look white enough. In other words he is a messenger of class war for the ruling class.

 

He comes to town, the protesters occupy the space.  Is occupying that space any different from sitting in at a congressional office?  Would the commentators have written so harshly of sitting in at a congressional office over something so egregious as blatant violations of the constitution?  How about occupying the administration building at Brown when it does something egregious?  Especially under the conditions that real progress on issues of justice at Brown usually happen only after the students do something bold and outrageous.

 

Thinking of what happened to Kelly as a protest is the wrong framing.  It is an act of resistance.  It is the same as the protesters going to Tahir square in Cairo to protest Mubarak and Morsi.  You think if Mubarak had come to Tahir square the people would not have screamed at him and tried to shout him down?  Under this context Kelly received mild treatment and the only thing that made this one different was the ruling class was caught by surprise, fumbled about, and have now started moaning about the evil protesters.

 

The shutting off of Commissioner Kelly’s microphone was an act of resistance that should be viewed for the resistance to government policy that it is  and should be cheered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contradictions in RI Economic Development Policy

This week the news was how great the startup culture in Rhode Island is.  We have the infrastructure to help new businesses get off the ground, and there is lots of success.  This is contrasted with the continual drumbeat about how bad the business climate is and how hard it is to grow businesses in RI.  Which is it guys????

 

Maybe a simplistic question, but one that goes to the heart of the misinformation about the RI economy that the media and the wealthy persist in stating.   The biggest misinformation is what a business climate is.  The exact definition is how much a state, community, or national government is willing to kowtow to the rich and allow them to run roughshod over the health and safety of the community and how little the rich have to pay in taxes to maintain the health and prosperity of the community.

 

Business climates are one of the tools the rich have used to beat all of us around the head by telling us that we shall have nirvana if only taxes on the rich are low enough and there are no onerous regulations on business.  There are a couple of things wrong with this model, one of which is that we are constantly told how important the place of Rhode Island is to our competitive advantage.  People love our beaches, farms, rivers, and old cities, but the only way to make money is to redevelop real estate, and for that we need to undo wetland regulations.

 
Another of our contradictions is that we see on a daily basis is that the rent is too damn high, but falling real estate prices are anathema to our future.  Which is it guys??  Do we want more homeless folks, more people who can not afford a place to live?  Or is rewarding speculation and too big to fail banks by creating more bubbles in real estate?

 

Which is going to do more for our economy, affordable housing for everyone or speculative bubbles for the banks to profit from?  The rent is still too damn high and ought to come down a lot seems much more important for our future.

 

The list goes on and on, but I will offer one more example and call it a day.  Current policy in RI favors the rich.  Incomes for the rich are skyrocketing while the rest of us fall further behind (see the rent is too damn high).  Nearly all of the growth in income has gone to less than 10% of the population.  But in the consumer society we live in rising inequality slows the economy as most folks do not have more money to spend.  The more unequal an economy gets, the less well it works.  So why does policy in RI flow in that direction?

 

Is Rhode Island ready to openly talk of its contradictions?

Response to Gary Reber essay

The flaw in this essay is that it assumes that economic growth is possible and desirable, when the reality is that the economy is already shrinking in western industrial economies due to ecological collapse, and that efforts to restart growth in the west are unlikely to succeed. We are seeing wages around the world move towards the mean, which means 90% of the folks in the west will be poorer. It still allows for growth in those places that are desperately poor, mostly because the only way any of this works is if the west gives up the right to steal the resources of the poor countries. As currently constituted, the global economy is rigged to help 1% maintain their wealth and power, which they do mostly with weapons and the ever growing police state.

 

 

Beyond ecological collapse in the ever more desperate thrashing for growth, the rigged economy generates ever greater inequality. The result of inequality is a deteriorating economy, which defeats much of the purpose of those who tout the greater power of the wealthy and their greater influence on policy. It is supposed to be able to at least create the illusion of growth during the bubbles, but even the bubbles look pretty strange when the only thing they are founded on is weird mortgages.

 

 

Tax the rich, feed the poor, heal the ecosystems. Put ecological healing and economic justice together, understand how the economy has to shrink in order to keep the planet livable, remember that community can substitute for a great deal of money, and that economic democracy is as important these days for community prosperity as political democracy.

RhodeMap

 

I have been participating in the Rhode Map process and have been somewhat troubled by its approach.  The most troubling is that it is mostly focused on economic growth with the other factors that sustain communities relegated to the second tier, subservient to growth.  The reason this troubles me so much is that economic growth, the kind that lifts all ships as productivity rises, has disappeared from the industrial world and is not coming back.  While many people scoff at the end of growth, the literature describing why this is happening, and how, is large.  The concept is still under observation, and there are ways to get a little growth in the short term, but to put all of our marbles in the growth basket is naive under conditions on planet Earth in the 21st Century.
The ecological collapse/global weirding that we are observing in the loss of forests, extreme storms, and food insecurity is deeply connected to the growing inequality that has overrun the global and American economies as the wealthy look for speculative investment rather than steady productivity gains.   The casino economy and our obsession with the business climate as opposed to the changes in the actual climate are clearly related to the end of growth as the wealthy can not find actually productive investments that return what they expect and have resorted to rent seeking and buying the political process.  Real estate speculation and the financialization of the economy are what they turn to when there is nothing else.  They have figured out how to profit from bubbles.  While the rest of us get poorer.  And the rest of us getting poorer is exactly why we know we are at the end of growth.
RhodeMap with its emphasis on growth centers it almost entirely a real estate speculation oriented program.  It merely seeks to move the real estate speculation to specific places rather than question why real estate speculation is our major economic indicator and how it relates to the further impoverishment of the people of Rhode Island.
While paying lip service to ecology, biodiversity, equity,  it is clear Rhode Map is driven by the desires of the rich, and is therefore likely to produce little of what really benefits the people of Rhode Island.  We would be much better served by a program that put ecology and equity first with the direction of investment coming after that, and that was also based on an understanding that the economy of Rhode Island will shrink over the next generation and we would be best served if we managed the shrinkage in a way that reduced the power of the rich and shared the income more equally.

Greg’s 60th Birthday conference speakers list

Greg’s 60th Birthday Conference Speakers

The morning line up will start at 10 AM with welcomes from the hosts and the politicians that wander in.
Tony Affigne will be the MC.
Then I get to talk. Not sure what I will be talking about one month from now, depends upon what catches my ear and is being processed, but I will give an overview of what I think RI needs as well as give my own welcome to the assembled.
Then we have the keynoter  Margaret Flowers co director of Its Our Ecoonomy.  The more people I talk to, the more I find folks familiar with Margaret’s work on health care.  She has broadened her horizons and I am really looking forward to meeting her and listening to her.
Then we have lunch.  I am still looking for some special presentation during lunch, but maybe I will just show my tadpole development video.
After lunch will be a series of 15 to 20 minute talks by some of the more interesting practioners and ponderers in Rhode Island, though lead off by an outsider who is one of my favorite observers of the American scene, Sam Smith.
The afternoon lineup beginning at 1:15
Towards an economy that works for all        Sam Smith     Editor of the Progressive Review,
Nourishing Rhode Island’s Future    Katherine Brown  Ph D. Rockbridge Farm
Natural resources: Rhode Island’s economy and landscape   Ken Payne   Administrator, RI Agricultural Partnership, and Principal, System Aesthetics LLC.
Building Resilient Community Economies       Robert Leaver     New Commons
What Should We Do and Not Do to Revitalize Rhode Island’s Economy?        Marshall Feldman     Director of Research and Academic Affairs at URI’s Center for Urban Studies and Research and an Associate Professor in URI’s Charles T. Schmidt, Jr. Labor Research Center.
Inequality and the prospects for prosperity in Rhode Island     Eric Hirsch   Professor of Sociology  Providence College
Achieving Economic Justice: Implementing An Urban RI Economic Strategy Plan     Keith Stokes    Mayforth Group
Valuing the urban forest      Ray Perrault      Director  Trees 2020  Groundwork Providence
Some effects of the military industrial complex on Rhode Island    Martha Yager  Program Coordinator  American Friends Service Committee SENE
Ecological Economics   Greg Gerritt  Practice Focused on Community Prosperity on Planet Earth      ProsperityForRI.com
Register by emailing Greg Gerritt    gerritt@mindspring.com   Please let me know if you will be attending the conference, the party, or BOTH and how many people ( and who)  will be in your entourage.
Costs  
Conference costs    $40 per person.  If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
Just coming to the party    $40 per person.    If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
BOTH   $60 per person     If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
SPONSORS    I am hoping many of you will be able to donate a bit more to support the work of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and Groundwork Providence two small non profits in Providence that I am proud to be associated with, and who are in the trenches helping prepare the community and the people in the community for the changes we are going through.   If you can not attend, please consider giving in honor of my birthday.
$100 per person or more would be gratefully accepted and acknowledged with a listing in the program under “I am standing with Greg on his birthday for environmental and economic justice.
Payment   
Checks made out to the Environmental Justice League of RI  (EJLRI is fine) can be mailed to Greg Gerritt   37 6th St  Providence RI 02906
Or  pay on line at             http://ejlri.wordpress.com/donate-now/

Environmental Justice and the Rhode Island Economy

Environmental Justice and improving the RI economy.  Greg Gerritt  September 2013
Over a 25 year period i have evolved a “Practice Focused on Community Prosperity on Planet Earth”. http://prosperityforri.com     Its slogan is “You can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems..”  The practice developed from the observation that the poorest people live in the most degraded ecosystems and that the only way to help communities prosper is by addressing both the poverty and the ecosystem degradation simultaneously thorough reforestation, building soils, restoring fisheries, cleaning up pollution.     This is true whether in rural villages or urban slums. As a result of the convergence of situations we find in lower income rural and urban communities living in degraded ecosystems we need ways forward that are applicable in communities across the globe, In the industrial west and in the tropics.  Struggling communities seeking prosperity in current conditions need to heal ecosystems, reduce inequality (1), develop resilience in the face of climate change, and surf the massive changes in the global economy as economic growth continues to slow (2) and all countries converge towards the global mean in per capita income.
Given the global upheavals, economic development in the 21st Century is going to be a bottom up affair if it is going to work and it will need to keep food security front and center.  Climate induced Bread Riots were the spark that touched off the Arab Spring (3), building on the long term trauma of living in places with too little water, too few jobs, and too little justice.   The forces of patriarchy have tried to smother the democratic and justice sparks of the Arab Spring. Despite the continued maintenance of political power by traditionally hierarchical systems based on ecological devastation and violently enforced inequality, the oligarchy is no longer able to deliver prosperity to the masses (4, 4A) . So the young demand justice knowing that that is the only way to get the economy to work.  Another world is possible.
Many of the poorer countries on the planet are still seeing a rise in per capita income towards towards the global mean, but rarely doing it in a way that spreads the wealth or preserves the ecosystems that feed them. (5, 6)   In an effort to maintain their power as the global economy slows, the rich have fostered an ever more unequal system so that they can maintain their privilege and the illusion of wealth while everyone else in the west gets poorer and communities around the world are devastated.       http://www.alec.org    is one of the propagandists of the vision of global domination by wealthy white men.   NSA style snooping is how the government and the ruling class seek to damp down the resistance to the oligarchy, their economy, and the pseudo democracy they offer. Thank you Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for pulling back the curtain.
The urge to create a security state is nothing new for the oligarchs, they have always created enemies to kill,  but today some of the tools the capitalists have developed to cover their economic tracks can no longer pretend the times are good. Even the World Bank, the cudgel of privatization and austerity, knows the current system is breaking down and that a new strategy is necessary (7) . Historic growth rates will not be returning except in places with some newly exploitable natural resource to devastate and pollute with such as places now being fracked. (8) Overall in the US 60% of the growth is in the medical industrial complex   (9), and the rest is being sucked out by Wall St. or contributing to global warming. 90% of us are already getting poorer and receiving degraded services.
Business as usual is failing because it is not based on the truth, ecologically or economically.   The more this becomes obvious, the more the forces of the 1% work to convince us that what they are doing to us is good.  We are bombarded with the message that doing exactly what business wants, eliminating rules, allowing more pollution and degradation, lowering taxes is the only way to more money. They call this having a good business climate and beat us about the head telling us we must obey, despite no evidence tying community prosperity to the business climate.  Do we really want the economy of Mississippi? (10 )
The World Bank describes forest communities as sitting on some very valuable and easily capturable resources.  (11)
 ”…….forests often have a combination of capturable wealth but poor, isolated, and powerless residents. Powerful interest groups can seize this wealth, depriving poor people of access to forest resources, and sometimes contributing to corruption and poor governance at the national level. Because it is more profitable to mine the forest than to manage it sustainably, this contributes  also to environmental damage.`
The people are marginalized, disempowered, disenfranchised. Often forest people are of a different ethnicity than the wealthier people of the cities. The mechanism of displacement is often a general or warlord on the take from Asian Pulp & Paper or some other corporados.   Two major factors right now are driving global deforestation.  Plantations for global corporate agriculture and China wants the wood to build its new cities and provide raw materials for its factories,  China has very limited forest resources  due to thousands of years of deforestation so it is cleaning out what is left in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and Africa.  (12)  Money changes hands, legislators vote for concessions, a new supply zone is now open for destruction, The community is soon headed headed for shanty towns and malnutrition, while the wood heads to the city and is often used by the employers who hire the refugees as low cost labor.  Resisters to government/warlord stealing of community forests are being killed across the world.  (13) Genocide has often been the tool of choice when powerful interests want a new forest to cut.
Rhode Island is the Industrial West’s fun house version of what is going on in forests around the world (the Great Swamp Massacre was not much different from what is going on in Irian Jaya today), where inner city populations are of a different ethnicity than the wealthy suburbanites and efforts to disenfranchise voters and ignore the will of the people are well known. In Rhode Island unless we encourage the paving over of farms and forests, which is an extremely stupid thing to do in the current global situation in which food security is critical to our development efforts, the prized sites for development in the cities are the brownfields, usually the old mills or dumps that line our rivers and dot our neighborhoods.  Our heavy and textile manufacturing is essentially gone, leaving toxic sites, degraded rivers, and poisoned low income people surrounding the sites.  The game of developing these sites so that they can generate money for the wealthy plays out similarly to the development of forest communities by the generals,   In the US we call these disenfranchised and marginalized communities subject to degradation Environmental Justice communities, EJ for short, and in our old deindustrialized industrial revolution heartland, these communities are treated similarly to forest communities in southern Asia that have been targeted for resource extraction.  With similar results.  It is my contention that the best practices that have been developed over the years to help forest communities develop themselves, the ones that yield the best results in terms poverty reduction, ecological healing, and contributions to the larger economy, provide some very clear lessons for places like Rhode Island. If we placed those same best policies and practices at the heart of all economic development efforts in Rhode island, rather than the business climate, we would achieve much better results in high poverty areas, and for the entire state, than anything going on today.
The best practices prescription the World Bank (14) offers for sound economic development based on their experience in forest communities:
Make sure the project has an ecological sustainability component based on real science and ecosystem health,
Include efforts to directly address poverty, especially addressing the needs of the poorest people and most disenfranchised in the community,
Put specific safeguards in place to make sure the capturable benefits stay in the community rather than end up in the hands of those who already have power and resources,
Develop democratic processes and practices for directing investment, and
Specifically encourage and train communities to stand up for themselves, while setting up a structural framework of real democracy in the larger community
I do not know about you, but that sounds exactly like the approach to development that is needed in our EJ communities and in Rhode Island in general, and is the one that most effortlessly puts money in government coffers as well with a fair taxation system  If the capturable resource is abandoned mills and the result of development tends towards displacement of the community already there as it is upscaled, how does this differ from forest people ending up in shanty towns when the generals steal their forest?    If the community has no say in what happens, if they suffer the burdens and displacement of development but not the benefits, how does that differ from what forest people get, and how does that change as to what we ought to do to remedy the situation?  And how does this not fit in to the picture of 121% of all the income growth going to 1% of the people?  (15)
It says to me that the best way to get economic development right in poor communities, or actually all communities, is to practice economic democracy, To allow the community not only a voice, but a vote and a stake in what happens to them and the land in their community.  The way forward is not continued deregulation, allowing harm to communities, it is not restricting labor rights or cutting benefits, it is not lowering minimum wages and the like.  It is not making a place business friendly.   It is bringing low income communities in to the process  and making sure the pie is more equitably distributed and the environment healed.   This is massively resisted by those who most benefit from the current system in Rhode Island and those who claim the mills as their property, just as it is resisted by the warlords in Africa trying to control the flows of wood and coltan.  The World Bank offers us a way forward, and everything we have learned in the Environmental Justice movement over the last 30 years says that is a path with heart.  The ecological condition of the planet says follow this path.  And the changing economies across the world say the old development model is failing fast.  The growing inequality and a system based on eternal growth and resource depletion is incompatible with making our communities and planet livable. (16)
The end of economic growth in the west was noted and footnoted earlier, but not adequately explored, and it adds an additional complication to the shifts communities all over the world are going through as they find economic equality such a critical component of poverty ending development.  So lets explore this and a few other factors so that we can relate them back to the other disasters /opportunities we are facing.
Economic growth that we have come to love and honor and rely upon to cover the tracks of the massive stealing by the rich, the system that allowed a few crumbs to trickle down to the rest of us because there was plenty more where it came from for the wealthy, is essentially gone, partly from ecosystem collapse, partly because inequality grinds economies to a halt, and maybe because the industrial revolution has run out of job creating innovations (17, 18) . At least one author has gone so far as to suggest that it is impossible to build modern industrial economies without new forests to exploit (19) something that is rapidly disappearing on planet Earth.  The stats coming out say the US economy grew about 2.5% a year last quarter (20). Not quite the 3% that signals good times, but the best in years.  What the media forget to tell us is that for the last 5 years more than 100 percent of the growth in income has ended up in the hands of 1% of the population.  (21)    Maybe 5% of the population has done well for itself, but wages are sinking for most workers and have been for years.  So for 80% of Americans there is no economic growth already and nothing in the offing from the traditional leadership seems like it will restart the jobs machine or relink it to improvements in productivity.  The growth is just funny money the rich play with so they can steal ours.
Another condition not mentioned in polite company is that 60% of the pseudo growth is in an industry that is bankrupting the country.  The Medical Industrial Complex. (22)  People are going bankrupt due to the high price of health care, while workplaces and municipalities are finding they can not afford health care for their employees or communities.  By every measure the US has the most expensive health care system in the world, and one of the worst of the industrial systems for most consumers. It takes from the poor and gives to the rich. This sector is growing at the expense of nearly every other sector in the American economy and Congress offers us pseudo solutions that keep the Insurance fat cats fatter while stymieing the ability of people to start and run microbusinesses.   So nearly everyone else is worse off now than they would be if the health care economy in the US was proportionally as large as it is in Western Europe and as good. Our political leadership keeps touting the medical industrial complex as a, economic growth center while trying to rein in health care spending.  Such contradictory goals highlight the problems we face as a community. Especially when the overall system is geared to expensive cures rather than cheaper prevention.
Due to the various “free” trade pacts large corporations have negotiated on their own behalf and then paid politicians to solemnize, wages in the US are trending down towards the global mean,and  have been for quite a while.  The buying power of the average American continues to go down every year ( 23)  and long term unemployment is spreading.  Even employed people have a harder time making ends meet each year as wages lag productivity.  Yet consumerism continues to be the state religion and every time housing prices go up the media pundits dance a jig despite the fact that many people, especially lower income people, are paying way too much of their income on housing ( 24). The rent is still too damn high. While the wealthy squawk when we tell them that we can no longer allow building in places at risk from rising sea levels and bigger storms.
When we go to the halls of government and community meetings to explore prosperity for RI, there is still much resistance to speaking the truth, of describing the inequality growing among us like a cancer and describing the results inequality brings to the economy and the ecosystem.  The economic development specialists continue to deny the reality that American Capitalism is no longer delivering the goods to any except Wall St.  The developers offer us a 50 year track record of failure in Rhode Island but continue to insist the emperor is clothed.  They offer us rising inequality, dropping wages, climate change, artificial foods, expensive health care, and diminished democracy held together by the national surveillance state, the thugs of the empire, and the criminalizing of dissent.   And have the audacity to tell us our business climate is bad and that giving the rich more would solve all of our problems.
Given the track record it is time for a new approach.  So let us try using the principles the World Bank offers us, which turn out to be exactly the same principles we have developed after looking at what kind of development really does alleviate poverty in the West and especially in EJ communities.  Take the principles of the Environmental Justice movement and put them at the heart of our work on developing the economy for all of our communities while remembering to ponder development in an age of no growth.  The key is development, not growth.  Using less but encouraging a healthy community without a toxic burden.  Providing for more of our own needs, becoming fossil fuel free and growing more of our food regionally.  Equality, community, justice and a proper and well maintained infrastructure are a great substitute for useless stuff.
While the EJ movement developed out of the civil rights movement and the environmental movement, it crystalized around some reports in the 1980′s about the ridiculously high incidence of the most toxic industrial and waste treatment sites being sited in the most vulnerable communities. (25)  From this beginning we have also come to see how it applies equally to the redevelopment of inner city sites, the lifting of historic toxic burdens from the working people in old and post industrial communities, and economic development in our communities in general.    Many years ago I wrote after my first visit to Milwaukee that it was following exactly the same redevelopment model that Providence was following with the resculpting of the riverside neighborhoods.  Both the positives and the negatives of redevelopment mimicked those of Providence, and were resulting in the same sort of gentrification of neighborhoods.  In the post real estate bubble crash of the economy Providence developed several shanty towns that the police wiped out, displacing a number of people.  We supposedly have shelters, Asia and Latin America have shanty towns, But shanty town or shelter it is the poor being displaced again because the financialization of the economy that functions by the rich capturing the capturable resources of the community and everyone else getting poorer.   Sometimes we get the illusion of growth, but often the growth we see is the result of adding to the economy things we should be subtracting.  If you do not subtract the cost of displacement and the diminishment of the resource base,  it is easier to pretend the economy is growing.
So the goal ought to be the redevelopment of old industrial sites in a way that keeps all of the added value in the community and displaces no one.  That requires that the community be an integral part of the development planning from day one, and that they get most of the economic benefits rather than the benefits leaking out of the community.  A system that uses private developers might work if democracy was enforced and communities could choose not to be displaced, and if no special treatment was asked for by the rich.  But the reality is that economic development  is a game played by governments and developers with all kinds of goodies not accessible to most in the community.  It is not private enterprise, despite the propaganda. The government provides the basics, everyone else follows along, and we allow the biggest followers to pick up most of the money created instead of an equitable distribution.  No wonder our communities are suffering.
Several years ago several people associated with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode island spent a year negotiating with the RI Department of Environmental Management on new rules for the redevelopment of brownfields, specifically focusing on community involvement.  We developed a set of rules that made the process transparent and fostered community involvement.  Those rules still sit in limbo, the DEM not having sufficient staff or political capital in the age of the business climate obsession to finalize them. The false austerity reigns.   It is clear that to further develop the compost industry in RI, to remove a major pollutant from the waste stream and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while providing a critical resource for our agricultural economy and food security, we need a new set of rules governing compost facilities.  Several of us developed a set of rules and sent them over the RIDEM.  Again DEM due to state budget cuts targeting enforcement had insufficient staff to review and revise the rules and they sit in limbo as does the industry.  But wealthy interests continue to call for the deregulation of everything, especially rules that protect clean water and the legislature follows their lead,  despite no evidence that the business climate actually measures anything useful or contributes to prosperity  (26)
We are stuck.  Gridlock in Washington, unanimity on Smith Hill, all following the business climate lemming march to ecological and community apocalypse.  The withering of the economy makes the business climate fantasy ever more dangerous for our communities, but the beat of the business climate propaganda machine, the repression of democracy, the criminalizing of dissent and the disenfranchisement of the poor make resistance tougher.  But we plod on, bringing the message of justice and ecological healing as the way forward.  RI has several public processes going on and is drifting ever faster into the business climate fantasy.  But the message of economic democracy, of ecological healing and the ending of poverty as the keys to prosperity, will march along with the EJ movement and will change the world. Instead of resisting, a clearer understanding of these changed conditions by the political and business leadership in Rhode Island would get all of us much more of what we want, Prosperity for all in healthy communities.
References
1.   Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett       The Spirit Level       Bloomsbury Press New York 2010
2.   Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012    http://www.nber.org/papers/w18315
3.    2011 Food Price Spikes Helped Trigger Arab Spring, Researchers Say    Steve Baragona      Last updated on: December 13, 2011 7:00 P

4.  Valerie M Moghadam  Development and Patriarchy   :  The Middle East and North Africa in Economic and Demographic Transition   World Institute for Development Economics Research of the  United Nations University    Working Paper 99 July 1992

4A  India’s Economy  A Five-Star Problem    The Economist  Aug30 2013  by P. F. Mumbai    http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/08/indias-economy?fsrc=nlw%7Cnewe%7C9-2-2013%7C6543650%7C35389285%7C

5.  Growth and Poverty in Developing Countries    Montek S. Ahluwalia, Nicholas G. Carter and Hollis B. Chenery

Development Policy Staff, The World Bank, Washington, DC 20433, USA Received December 1978    (from Journal of Development Economics 6 (1979) 299-341 © North-Holland Publishing Company)

6. China moves to curb rising income inequality       By Charles Riley and Vivian Kam  @CNNMoney February 5, 2013: 11:50 PM ET   http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/05/news/economy/china-income-inequality/index.html
7.       Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012     http://www.redd-monitor.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ForestCODE-Jan-2013.pdf
8.     Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012    http://www.nber.org/papers/w18315
9.    Health-Care Spending to Reach 20% of U.S. Economy by 2021      By Alex Wayne - Jun 13, 2012 12:01 AM ET
10.  Grading Places:      What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?   by Peter Fisher, with a Preface by Greg LeRoy     May 2013    http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/gradingplaces
11.    Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012    http://www.redd-monitor.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ForestCODE-Jan-2013.pdf
12.  China’s Forestry Resource Inventory     Prepared By:     Mark Petry & Zhang Lei    USDA Global Agricultural Information Network   http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/China’s%20Forestry%20Resource%20Inventory_Beijing_China%20-%20Peoples%20Republic%20of_2009-12-15.pdf
13.     Cambodian police shoot dead leading anti-logging campaigner    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/26/cambodia-police-shoot-dead-antilogging-activist
14.    Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012     http://www.redd-monitor.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ForestCODE-Jan-2013.pdf
15.    Top One Percent Captured 121 Percent Of All Income Gains During Recovery’s First Years: Study        Bonnie Kavoussi  The Huffington Post

Posted: 02/12/2013 2:11 pm EST

 

16.  James D Ramsey and Terence M. O’Sullivan       There’s a Pattern Here: The Case to Integrate Environmental Security into Homeland Security Strategy

Homeland Security Affairs  The Journal of the Naval  Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security

http://www.hsaj.org/?fullarticle=9.1.6

17.   Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012    http://www.nber.org/papers/w18315

18.     Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett       The Spirit Level       Bloomsbury Press New York 2010

19.  Immanuel Wallerstein  The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1976,

20.   United States’ 2nd-Quarter Growth Is Revised Up to 2.5%, From 1.7%  New York Times

Published: August 29, 2013  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/30/business/economy/second-quarter-gdp-revised-sharply-higher.html?_r=0 

21.  Top One Percent Captured 121 Percent Of All Income Gains During Recovery’s First Years: Study        Bonnie Kavoussi  The Huffington Post

Posted: 02/12/2013 2:11 pm EST

22.  Health-Care Spending to Reach 20% of U.S. Economy by 2021      By Alex Wayne - Jun 13, 2012 12:01 AM ET
23. Lawrence Mishel and Heidi Shierholz     A Decade of Flat Wages     The Key Barrier to Shared Prosperity and a Rising Middle Class

Economic Policy Institute   August 21, 2013  

 

24   Home prices across the US defy gravity      John W. Schoen   CNBC    Aug. 26, 2013   8:48 AM
25.  Bullard, R. D. 1990. Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. Boulder, CO: Westview.
26    Grading Places:      What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?   by Peter Fisher, with a Preface by Greg LeRoy     May 2013    http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/gradingplaces

 

McKinney Global Report

I have been reading a McKinney Global report on 5 areas of opportunity for the US economy.  It reads just like every other report on economic development potential I have read for the last 20 years and misses the boat just as much.  it is the business climate argument writ large.  Reduce regulation seems to be the obsession, all the while minimizing the risk of environmental catastrophe and downplaying all the risks.  Fracking is one of the stalking horses that McKinney just loves and climate change while mentioned, is just plain out of the calculations.  Another dumb report

The misadventures of an urban naturalist

Published on ecoRI news   http://www.ecori.org/green-groups/2013/8/15/misadventures-of-an-urban-naturalist.html

Ever since I moved to Providence from the northwoods my daily walking has taken me to the cemeteries of the East Side.  I still walk frequently in the Swan Point Cemetery but ever since a neighborhood delegation convinced the Parks Department to quit locking the pedestrian entrances to the North Burial Ground I have spend much time there looking at the two ponds.  In the NBG the larger pond, the one right below the esker, is a treasure trove of wildlife.  There are fish, turtles (at least 2 kinds) Bullfrogs, a variety of waterbirds (ducks, geese,Green herons, Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Cormorants) muskrats and otters.  Swan Point provides an occasional opportunity to see large and charismatic wildlife such as Bald Eagles or a flock of 15 Great Blue Herons, but day in and day out if you need a small wildlife fix, the pond at the Burial Ground will show you something almost every day.
The bigger pond will be included in this tale of misadventure and discovery, but the scene of the crime is actually a little drainage swale just below the maintenance building.  It has water in it most of the time, but does go dry when we hit a long dry spell.  It is about 50 ft by 75 ft, maybe 2ft deep at its deepest point.  I had walked in the Burial Ground occasionally prior to its unlocking, but had no memories of the drainage swale.
But several years ago some time in May or June, (I have no recollection of the date, only the wonder) I was walking by the pond ( which is how one might normally think of it until they checked out the drainage system more carefully and realized it was man made) looking at the water and saw these little black tadpoles swimming around in the water.  It was the first tadpoles I had seen in years, and most definitely the first opportunity for the study of tadpoles since I had studied evolution and could understand what I was looking at.
For the few weeks in the late spring and early summer that they were turning from tadpole to ( and here the misadventure begins) frog  I watched nearly daily.  Actually I did not know what kind of tadpoles they were, did not know you could look at tadpole pictures to identify them, but figured when they turned to frogs I would be able to identify them.
There were thousands of them, and mostly they swam about the shallow water right offshore in plain sight.  I brought my bird watching scope and had some very good viewing.  Eventually i saw legs and they turned to frogs in early July.  I looked carefully at some before they hopped away.  They were mostly gray with dark markings on the back.  On line I looked at frog pictures and thought they were Gray Tree Frogs.  I gave it no other thought other than that is what I started calling them, while I awaited the next spring so I could watch again and learn more.
The second year I saw them early, watched all the way through, learned that this bunch were mating repeatedly with tadpoles showing up in cohorts in May and June. Again the first week of July, they were gone.  I also realized that the ease of observation might just make it a great place for both educational and video purposes.  I continued my observations, starting to think about recording the dates of first sightings and last, began to understand the waves of maturation as likely resulting from successive nights of mating, and began to look for some sort of program for young teens who might be interested in creating a video.  Luddite that i am it was hard to imagine me getting and figuring out how to use a camera.  So I figured some program for teens might have one or two that would be interested in such a thing.  I still have not found them.
My third year of observation, while I was still hoping some teenagers would work with me (I continue to offer the opportunity for teenagers in my neighborhood) I actually recorded the date I first saw tadpoles, May 12.   In retrospect I realize I paid little attention to pond dynamics other than knowing it would go dry in a drought and watching it empty and fill with the weather.   One highlight of the year was bringing my great niece down to the pond for her first look at tadpoles.  For that we netted a few, looked at them briefly, then put them back and netted a new crop.  They are so easy to net that even a three year old could do it.  She was gentle and practiced catch and release.  I also spent a bit more energy watching the vegetation in the pond, and realized that about the time the tree frogs were hopping away the vegetation in the pond was starting to get thick and eventually became so thick that you could not see into the pond to watch anything.
This third year I also became aware that as the Tree Frogs were leaving, a new crop of tadpoles was becoming visible.  Again my ignorance showed and I assumed that since there were bullfrogs not very far away, and that as the pond did not go dry every year Bullfrogs might be fooled into trying live there on occasional dispersals from crowded ponds.  I assumed they were bullfrog tadpoles.  Between the vegetation and the pond going dry I saw no more of the new tadpoles after mid July and thought I might find out more the next year.
After two years of looking for a program to work with on the video I decided it was time to do it myself.  That and the Rhode Island Rivers Council suggested that Friends of the Moshassuck to do more than work on its experimental forest every year. So FOTM applied for a few hundred dollars in our annual Rivers Council grant application to make a video on the development of Gray Tree Frog tadpoles from first appearance to hopping up the hill and away from the pond. The request was funded and I jumped in along with my friend and fellow Friends of the Moshassuck board member Michael Bradlee.  Thank you RI Rivers Council for your support of this project.
I got a used JVC camera up on Hope St, It spent weeks on my desk while I figured out how to find the owners manual and reading it.  Eventually, some time in early March, I just started taking it outside and turning it on.  I then spent two weeks recording and deleting strange shots of the ground, monologues, and experiments with focusing and magnification, and then figured out how to get into imovie.   I started collecting video of the two ponds in the North Burial Ground towards the end of March 2013 and vowed to learn to edit them.  I eventually learned you can do primitive editing simply by copying, pasting, deleting, and that I can do.  I also learned about slow motion, and I have learned much about tadpole locomotion by watching slowed down swimming and jumping.   I still can not do captions, voice overs, music or anything else, but it was enough to get started.
From the start it was clear to me that while the grant was for a tadpole video, it made sense to record all of the different wildlife  in the Burial Ground.  Early on there were the birds and much footage of efforts to get birds in focus and keep them in the screen has been deleted.  I continue capturing birds in pixels and am looking to eventually produce a video collage of the birds of the NBG.  I am slightly more adept today than I was in March but actually just became comfortable with shooting and shooting and getting 5 usable seconds.  Under those standards I even have a few shots of swifts and the red tail hawks.
When it became warm and sunny in April the bigger pond came alive with Painted Turtles and Bullfrogs.  I have been tracking the turtles and Bullfrogs over the last few years as well as the tadpoles of the little pond.  Two years ago I regularly counted 9 turtles on the morning sunning log, and last year there were 12.  This year I have seen as many as 14 at a time during the spring peak.  The turtles taught me much about video production.  My tendency is to futz and the turtles reminded me to set the camera, get the turtles in focus, hit record and walk away.  The magnification and distance meant that with the naked eye I could only see the outline of what was going on, and on the little screen that shows you what you are filming it is hard to see much, so all of the interesting turtle behavior observed is the result of reviewing my footage after the fact.  Do not know what I will do with it all, turtles can be pretty boring and immobile for long stretches, but there is some interesting footage and I expect I will find a few minutes of action to show when I get to turtle videos.  On May 12 I I learned how easy it is to finish up a video in imovie (click on finish)  and post it on to youtube (click on share) . I created the moshassuckcritters youtube channel and posted small snippets of a bullfrog sitting in the pond, some turtles sunning, and calling frogs.  The Bullfrog footage continues to be collected, and I will eventually produce a Bullfrog video.
While I had gotten in the habit over the last few years of walking in the Burial Ground, even at night, I had not taken to walking late enough to see the frog matings in the long days of May and June.  But with video project underway Michael Bradlee and i spent a number of evenings trying to get pictures of mating frogs (only one quick shot that is included in the Fowler’s Toad development video) and recording lots of calling. Mating took place on multiple nights when conditions were favorable.  I started posting short snippets of calls right away.  It is only as i now go through the material making videos from the raw footage that I have heard the clear distinction between the calls of the frogs and the toads.  Because we assumed we knew what we were listening to (tree frogs), we did not do our homework, though i listened to some tree frog calls on the web and what we heard seemed to match up. Of course this being a misadventure I was totally confused about what we had in the little pond,  Sometimes it sounded like we were hearing two different critters, but we were never sure, and just assumed tree frogs were multi tonal.  As I was writing this, and simultaneously working on putting the Gray Tree Frog Development video together, I listened to two sets of calling one right after the other.  The calls were very distinct and i realized for the first time I could  tell which calls were which.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJwSmbpTdgk&feature=c4-overview&list=UUn8KjvFgLD0nVShkIYOoyHQ    Though I checked with some experts before totally believing it. Clearly this is something I am going to have to pay much more attention to next spring when I do this again.
Beginning on June 5 little black critters filled the little pond, thousands of them over the next few weeks.  Assuming the were Tree Frogs I posted videos, did interviews, wrote blog posts about them.  In their early stage they remind me of pelagic shellfish, on steroids.  I often think of them as harried commuters living in tadpole cities during the morning commute, often with a predominant direction.  It is a sight to behold, these little critters going every which way, bumping into each other, stopping here and there then moving on.   Over the last few years it is the mad rush of the tadpoles swimming that has stuck in my mind the most.  But this year i was actually recording things and reviewing them and a new picture began to emerge.  Turns out the pelagic stage lasts barely a week, at which point they start to settle down in the vegetation and eat.  They are still hyper, moving a lot, but staying on the vegetation and eating much of the time.  Most tadpoles eat bacteria on the plants in the water, very different fare from the insects and other small creatures they eat after transformation.  I have included video of Fowlers toad tadpoles grazing on what grows on the grass.
The pond is open water in the cold weather, but as the pond heats up an amazing array of plants spring up, and they cover the entire surface of the pond by late June.  I noticed this phenomenon last year, but this year I paid much more attention.  By June 18 it was starting to get very difficult to get clear shots into the water of the tadpoles hidden as they were in the bottom vegetation, and the flowering plants above the surface began covering the entire pond with their leaves.  June 22 was the last day i could get a clear shot of anything in the pond, and that was the day I made my first pictures of the second round of tadpoles in the pond.
Turns out I had focused the camera on the water, turned it on, and then turned to talk to a colleague who had shown up.  It was only later, many days later, when i got a chance to look at the footage that I realized what I had captured.   The 23rd I returned to the pond with my great niece for the second year in a row and netted tadpoles for her to look at and to video.  It was then I became aware of the diversity in the pond, and events were set off that eventually turned the misadventures in taxonomy into a much more accurate picture.  In addition to catching little black tadpoles in all stages, no legs, two legs, four legs, and the first frogs of the season, we caught a few tadpoles with green skin a large flat tail and a golden disk, the ones I had seen the year before and thought were bullfrogs.
By this time I had learned that there are tadpole identification guides and I checked out a few on line.  I assumed it was bullfrogs, maybe with a few coming over from the big pond a few hundred yards away, but that did not seem quite right looking at the pictures.  They looked the most like Gray Tree Frogs, but i was very skeptical because I thought the little black tadpoles turned into Tree Frogs.  So I posted a video clip and started asking my colleagues at DEM, RINHS, and assorted places what they were.  I received I do not know answers, and some guesses as good as mine, but eventually I was connected to Chris Raithel of the RI Department of Environmental Management and Peter Paton at URI.  Peter clearly identified the new tadpoles as Gray Tree Frogs.  When i had absorbed that information I asked what were these little black tadpoles that turned into gray frogs.  The original word came back as American Toads, which was quickly updated to Fowler’s Toads.  I realized how big a misadventure i had been on for two years, though no real harm done, I needed to correct everything.  So I fixed the titles and write ups on the videos and fixed some of the writing about frogs on my blog.
The use of the net to catch tadpoles and froglets for videoing on June 23 changed the project dramatically, and allowed it to go forward at a time when it was impossible to video into the pond.  I quickly developed a methodology that got me as clear pictures as an amateur like me was going to get , that also allowed the tadpoles to have water  and to get them back into the pond safely.  This allowed me to capture much more detail in the development of the legs, and the sequences I have of very tiny legs in the Tree Frogs are not matched in the pictures I have of developing Toads.  I have a few glimpses of toads in slow motion showing what might be the early stages leg development, but nothing very clear until videoing netted tadpoles on June 23.  What I did get on the toads is cool pictures of them in the two and 4 legged stages.  The two legged stage is still very much water adapted. When the toads were in my hand or the net trying to move using 2 legs essentially jammed their faces into the substrate and they only moved by thrashing around.  Once front legs develop they start to walk and it is this four legged stage while still having a large tail, that i found the most interesting.  The developing toads looked like little dinosaurs or lizards, while the other stages look only like amphibians.
For the next few weeks the number of toad tadpoles caught each day went down while occasionally there would be an eruption of toadlets as the next mating night batch finished their development and left the pond.  I included a bit of hopping away to end the toad video.
In early July the last of the Fowler’s Toads left the scene, leaving Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles hiding among the vegetation in the shallows.   I thought I developed a search profile that allowed me to consistently catch tadpoles, but as there were many fewer tree frog tadpoles than Toad tadpoles, I was only able to catch a few each day.  These I videoed in a small plastic container with a bit of water, an arrangement that i intend to upgrade next year.  With this set up I was able to intensively study the leg development in the Tree Frogs, which was the goal of the project all along, and i think the video of  Tree Frog development covers the development of rear legs quite well.  I am not quite sure about the development of forelegs and how quickly it goes.  I did not catch those stages at all, Nothing today, full blown tomorrow.  Consistently.  I am guessing it happens very quickly.  One of my favorite pictures of the whole project is the tree frog with 4 legs and a big tale climbing the plastic container.  I included both normal speed and slow motion of that clip in the video and in slow mo it is a treat.
The netting program also gave me a chance to observe the insects and other invertebrates in the water, a collection of footage I will eventually edit and release, and I got the idea to shoot video of the flying insects as well and have footage of dragonflies, bees, and other assorted flyers.  Watching the bees work the purple flowers of the water plants was a treat that only the camera allowed me to enjoy.
Three intensive months of filming are now done, and among the 47 videos now on moshassuckcritters are videos on Fowlers Toad tadpole development and Gray Tree Frog development showing all of the stages.   Comments appreciated.  It has been an educational experience, and I look forward to doing it again next year.
Fowlers Toad video

 

Capitalism

Greg Gerritt • If Central Banks are the determiner of economic conditions, which all of the above, and much of what we read elsewhere, seems to suggest, can someone tell me why so many insist that it is a capitalist entrepreneur driven system other than as a tool to steal more from the workers? If we talked about our economies as mixed, as an interplay of the public and private, we would have much more fruitful discussions, and we could get true sustainability on the table rather than lip service.

Correcting Moshassuck Critters identifications

Now that I know more about what kind of frogs, toads, and tadpoles I am looking at I went back to Moshassuckcritters and updated all of the titles and writeups that needed to be corrected.  Moshassuckcritters is available at   http://www.youtube.com/user/Moshassuckcritters?view_as=public      Thanks to all who helped in the quest.  I still have lots of footage to edit and post, so expect more videos over the course of the summer.   greg

Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island Greg’s 60th Birthday conference

Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island
 
Greg’s 60th Birthday Conference   October 12 2013  10 AM to 5 PM  Pawtucket Armory  Pawtucket RI
 
Contact Information
Greg Gerritt
401-331-0529
Gerritt@mindspring.com
Http//ProsperityForRI.com
On October 12 2013 at the Pawtucket Armory beginning at 10 AM, there shall be a conference  “Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice,  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island.  ”  Organized by Greg Gerritt for his 60th birthday, the conference is part of an effort to open up the discussion as to the appropriate economic development strategy for Rhode Island and places like Rhode Island.  It is clear that an economy run for the benefit of the 1% does not work very well for anyone other than the 1%, but that other models of development appear ot be off the table.  As the economy grinds to a halt due to inequality, we also see ever more ecological destruction, further damaging the economy.  It is my contention that an economy that focuses on ecological healing, economic justice, and local based food security will be much more capable of riding out the turmoil of the 21st century and climate change than economies focused of the greed of the 1%.  Yet the people who direct economic policy in Rhode Island continue on the 1% path despite the traumas it brings and the general failure of development efforts over the last 40 years.
It is unlikely that we can turn the ship of state away from thrashing around for growth in one fell swoop, but it is still critical to begin a new discussion, one that lays out the true parameters of the ecological and unequal box we have been pushed into.  Hence a conference as a way to restart the discussion. This time encompassing the full range of possibilities, not just the business climate model trumpeted by the Koch brothers and their wealthy allies that we have been offered.
No one day conference can be comprehensive, but the October 12 conference will offer talks by some of the leading thinkers in the Eastern US and Rhode Island on where the economy might go if ecological healing and economic justice are at the heart of what we do to help our communities prosper.
Confirmed speakers
Keynoter  Margaret Flowers          Its Our Economy
Katherine Brown    Independent consultant on Community Agriculture
Marshall Feldman    URI
Robert Leaver   New Commons
Ken Payne     System Aesthetics LLC
Ray Perrault  Groundwork Providence
Jamie Rhodes   Clean Water Action
Sam Smith     The Progressive Review
Martha Yager   American Friends Service Committee
Greg Gerritt    ProsperityForRI.com
Additional speakers are expected
Conference is being hosted by The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and Groundwork Providence.  Their websites are  http://ejlri.wordpress.com       http://groundworkprovidence.org
Conference fee   $35.00   rising to $40 on September 15
There is a separate admission birthday dinner/dance party immediately following the conference (at 5:30 PM)  raising money for the EJLRI and GwP   Preregistration for dinner for conference attendees is a must.
For More Information or to To Register for the conference email Greg Gerritt gerritt@mindspring.com   All arrangements can be made from there.  
Greg Gerritt is available for interviews and to explain the conference at the contact information above.  Greg’s current work on the Rhode island economy can be viewed at   http://prosperityforri.com     and the Rhode Island economy is specifically explored in http://prosperityforri.com/38-studios-and-economic-development-in-rhode-island-2/        http://prosperityforri.com/economyri-response/    http://prosperityforri.com/the-world-bank-sort-of-figures-it-out/
 

The economic slowdown in china

Comments I made on The Economist website  http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/07/economist-explains-2

 

I am thinking that maybe the double digit growth machine has run out of steam permanently. No country has been able to maintain the upward trajectory for long, and it appears that each new round ends up with the outcome of less income per capita than the previous round of countries climbing the economic ladder. One of the causes is ecological collapse, especially the destruction of forests. The harder it is to get wood, the harder it is to build cities. The heat is on China to reduce wood imports, and the flooding China is already experiencing, along with the droughts, remind everyone how little of its own forest China has left to protect its watersheds and climate. The smog in Singapore also reminds us.

A second cause is rising inequality, The Koch brothers and their minions tell us economies should only deliver for the 1%, but clearly that is not working too well.

I have always found that when there are fewer truly productive places to invest as modern economies grind down you get asset bubbles. These are not aberrations, they are the only way the 1% can get fast enough returns to slake their greed.

China has as many greedy people as the US, and when combined with the need to create employment to stave off civic unrest they make mistakes that bring the economy into stall faster. They grab more instead of more widely distributing income and building resilience to climate change.

We are looking at the financialization of everything, but it is no way to run an economy. Look for a long term trends towards steady state economies with all countries trending toward the global mean in income.

NBG Frogs July 3, 2013

The Bullfrog and Gray Tree Frog tadpoles have turned to frogs.  In the larger pond there are no more jumping tadpoles, now there are hundreds of frogs lining the shores.  I collected a bit of video evidence today.  It is right on schedule.

Today I found no Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles in the drainage swale/little pond.  Yesterday I found only a very few. I did find one last frog and have some nice footage of it.  I am in holiday mode and do not feel like editing footage this afternoon, but will put up some preliminary footage in the next few days, and with the changes, it is time to start putting together the developmental sequence of the two frogs.  I have only some decent footage, but have learned much about both the frogs and the video process, so while I am looking forward to putting together the developmental sequence videos, I am really looking forward to doing this again next year much better than I did this year.

 

I expect that I will also write up my observations and put them together on this blog and on the Friends of the Moshassuck website.

 

the national insecurity state letter to projo

Too Many Snowdens published on July 2 properly points out that the US keeps too many secrets.  A democracy should have almost no secrets, and a country that respects and is at peace with its neighbors will need almost no secrets.  The United States has created the largest national insecurity system on Earth primarily because it wishes to use its military to make other countries do its bidding.  Practicing peace would work much better than keeping secrets, but it would also help if we did not run national insecurity systems for profit.  The idea that we can contract out national insecurity to for profit compnaies has to be one of the stupidest things our government has ever invented.  My guess is that the US privatized its insecurity apparatus so that it coud be farmed out to low paid workers while campaign contributors make big money.
As for the comments about patriots, the most courageous of patriots are those who blow the whistle when our government does stupid, vilolent, and illegal things such as kill innocent children around the world.  Eric Snowden is a hero.  All of the leaders of the national insecurity apparatus are the ones who should be in jail for the murders they have committed in our name.

The medical industrial complex and the end of economic growth

Recently I read an article about the rise in health insurance costs, and it noted that the expectation in the United States is that medical costs will rise between 4.6 and 7.5% next year. This following years of double digit increases prior to the recession.  I also saw some  estimates on how much the entire economy was going to grow next year.  That number is 2.2 to 2.4% with the lower number becoming more prevalent.  I then did a bit of arithmetic on how much of the economic growth in the US is tied up in the medical industrial complex and how that compares to everything else.
As of 2013  the medical sector of the economy is 18.4% of the US economy.  That number has been increasing rapidly over the last 30 years, and there are estimates that it will approach 25% of the economy within 10 years.  The case I want to make is best illustrated if I use the most rapid estimate for the growth in medical costs.  You can do the math using any other variation of the numbers and it may present a slightly less extreme set of numbers, but the pattern will remain.  18.4% times 7.5% equals 1.35%    If growth is 2.2% then it means all of the economy other than the medical industrial complex will grow a total of .85%.  This says that the 82% of the economy that is not in the medical industrial complex is growing about 1.04% per year.
As there are a few industries and costs that are growing: banking, college tuitions, high tech, and spying, then vast sectors of the economy are already shrinking. And as the cost of health care continues to climb much faster than the rest of the economy the growth rate of the rest of the economy will approach zero or even negative.  We see this evolving when businesses say the cost of health care is more than they can bear and workers will not start businesses if they have to go without health insurance for their families.
Clearly we are going to have to rethink the medical industrial complex with a focus on prevention and precaution as part of our step away from the brink.   But that is difficult if we have to stop the poisoning of our communities so that prevention can have the desired effect.  The producers of poison need to stop having the right to feed poisons to us if we are to make the economy or the healthcare system work.  And so it goes as we tug on one of the unraveled threads of our economy and it leads us into ecological healing and economic justice as the road forward.

June 22 at the NBG

 

Video is less than 6 minutes long.  Lots of interesting stuff.  Splashed by a hunting kingfisher.  I am pretty sure in the 10 second section where george and i talk that those are bullfrog tadpoles from the drainage swale, not tree frogs.  Rest of the time in the swale tadpoles are tree frogs.  In the other pond all tadpoles seen ar yearling bullfrog tadploes likely to transform and become frogs in the enxt few weeks.  Last year overlapped the tree frogs.   Today was the first time I could really see the legs on the tree frog tadpoles..  I thought maybe yesterday, but on 1 or 2 treefrog tadpoles in the video there are unequivocable legs.  Development goes on several more weeks as there are multiple nights of mating spread over several weeks and each night’s babies are a few days younger and behind in development.  Note the different sizes that swim together, something more noticeable in previous days postings.  Behavior of the tree frogs has also changed.  For several days in the middle of the day they were all out swimming.  Now they are staying in the vegetation more and moving much less.  Becomes harder to find places where you can see any at all even though the numbers have not dropped off dramatically.  Their swarming in the mid day sun seems so counter intuitive to a mammal, but now they are adopting more cryptic behavior.  I am starting to see a study next year on when the change comes in the behavior, and could base it on some criteria of how many cross a line in x time based.  Not sure I can be that regular. But it would be great training for a budding scientist.  Anyone know a teenager in need of an outdoor study project?   greg